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Engineering In Design?

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Hi all!

For my following question I'd like it if only professional active designers answered, I know this may sound harsh or like I'm being overly selective, but hear me out.


I'm studying design at University level in Sweden, right now we're taking courses involving "Materials Science & Engineering", "Production Engineering" etc. Now, this sounds fine, at least it did to me when I first found out we were taking these classes, but the professors go into such detail and down to atomic level, it feels more like I'm taking chemistry or advanced math/engineering than design. A few classes ago the professor was discussing "cutting angles of lathe blades".

The only explanation to why we are taking courses that go into these subjects we've received is: "it's good for you to have an idea about these things". I do agree with this to some extent, but I'd rather put time into courses in 3D rendering, model building, advanced hand sketching/rendering etc.

I might be approaching this all wrong, so that's why I'm posting this as a question to you active professionals out there: Do you as active designers calculate cutting angles, decide what kind of alloys to use, discuss what type of beams to use and what thickness the steel should be?


As I said, since I do not know how a designer in the field works nowadays, I'm asking you.


Thankful for answers.


Best Regards,


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Hi ZexeL,


the main reason why it is so important to have an appropriate background in fundamentals of engineering is simple.


A designer is mainly one of the first entities in the product development chain.

By his draft he defines the initial conditions (material of choice and geometry) of the future products. Hence all necessary manufacturing and production technologies are pre-defined by these initial conditions, too.


In turn, like claimed in all construction methodology classes, the industrial design of the product (materials and geometry) determines more than 70% of the total product development and manufacturing costs, because the product design can hardly be changed subsequently within the following product development chain stages.


To generate sustainable and eco-efficient design fundamentals in engineering (physics, mathematics, materials etc.) and especially production technology is necessary for a successful product designer.


Hope this was helpful?


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Thank you for your reply!

I guess I'll just have to bite the bullet and get on with it! ^_^ Hopefully I'll be able to put all the knowledge I'm now cramming into my head to good use further down the road!


Again, thank you for a quick and fair reply!




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10 years ago I went through some similar classes that involved die hard mechanical engineering stuff, and yes I had the feeling that it was not necessary to go so deep into that. I remember that there were students who quit the study just because of that.

But you might find that knowledge quite useful in your profession as and industrial designer, as you might have some conversations with engineers (mechanical, chemical, etc..) who are talking about the things that you learned a long time ago. Anyways, at least acquiring basic knowledge will help you to understand the physical constraints in order to design products that are feasible to manufacturer. Also knowledge of materials will make you more creative in your design solutions.


Just my 2cents,



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You are welcome. :)


In general, I guess this is a very interessting topic.

To look beyound the individual point of view is crucial for a great product design.


From my point I would like to know what input information are necessary for the industrial designer for starting the creative work.

What are the most important factors which defines the initial conditions, besides the technological ones (materials, geometries etc.), for the design process.

Do your designs are influenced by customer or market needs?

If yes, what are the key figures which have greates inlfuence on your work?

How do you perform your research on customer/market demands to determine and evaluate these key figures?


Thanks a lot for the answers.


Best regards,


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