Product design is an innovative process. Churning out truly original designs requires visionary insight, out-of-the box thinking, and more importantly experience. Yes, a lot of experience. On the other hand, to design by data requires sound knowledge of simulation, complex engineering principles, and often a variety of unfamiliar software interfaces to learn. So what is your opinion – can you create better designs based on experience or based on simulation data?
Well, before you have my answer. Take a look at the general product lifecycle diagram.
It highlights, to beat your competition, you should:
Increase the pace of innovation and introduce new products faster
Increase revenue by shifting the break-even point left and extend the retirement period
CAD and CAE are widely employed in every step of the product engineering process to deliver design possibilities that meet functional requirements with optimal resources. However, as designers outnumber simulation analysts in product engineering firms, performance feedback from analysts to designers arrives late. By the time an analyst provides his or her feedback on a design’s performance, the designer might have iterated further with the design resulting in out-of-synch simulation data. If the initial design met the functional requirements, the situation is still manageable. But, what if the original design missed to score well on performance? Definitely, it takes the wind out of designer’s sail.
To mitigate the risk of the unknown, designers tend to pick an existing design as an initial reference point and modify it gradually - delivering incremental improvements. This, in a way, is really throttling down the pace of innovation. So design by experience can be counterproductive.
On the other hand, simulation help designers. How can designers get the valuable feedback that simulation provides faster? Can designers perform simulation themselves without the need to understand the complex physics and without the pain of learning a new software interface?