DT Product Design

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1.1 The Evolution of Product Design

  • Developments in technology have affected materials and manufacturing. New materials have been produced, and the way we make products has changed.
  •  Social factors have an impact on the products we use.
  • Products for a 'greener' future are being developed.
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Key Terms

Mass produced- made in great quantity by a standardised process.

Bakelite- a synthetic plastic named after its inventer- L.H Baekland

Utility- describes an item made for its usefulness

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Social Factors

  • Views on what's acceptable/fashionable have changed through the ages.
  • Products are seasonal and designers must constantly change colours and styles.
  • Political changes, especially regarding economy and in war, affect the way products are developed.
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  • Impact on the environment of the consumer society.
  • Rethink refuse, reduce, re-use, repair, recycle.
  • Higher prices for 'green' products.
  • Laws to reduce carbon footprint.
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1.2 Design Movements

  • Art movements and the artists behind them have continually moved painting, sculpture and design forward by uniting around shared visions and philosophies.
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Design Movements

Arts & Crafts- organic shapes and patterns found in nature.

 Art Nouveau- based on organic lines of climbing plants and japanese art.

Modernism- ergonomical appropriate materials and little decoration. Geometric shapes.

 Bauhaus- modern materials and mass production.

Art Deco- fashionable, glamorous influenced by other movements and egyptian art.

 De Stijl- basic shapes, primary colours, geometric design.

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Key Terms

Form- the structural beauty of a shape

Function- how a product works

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1.3 The birth of the designer label

  • New production technologies allowed products to be 'streamlined'.
  • Post-war, young people became consumers, and started looking for products that portrayed their individuality.
  • In post-modernism, designers used colour and style to great effect but did not dwell on the function of the product.
  • As companies compete to be market leaders, brand image becomes more important.
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Key Terms

Brand image is now a major factor in the sale of goods, and companies work hard to be at the top in their product area.

Many individual designers are now hidden behind the brand label.

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1.4 From post-modernism to blobject

  • New technology has driven design forward.
  • Anthropomorphism uses human features on objects to improve the human interface.
  • Microtechnology and miniturisation have revolutionised products such as mobile phones.
  • Smart materials respond to their environment, and can reduce the size and complexity of products.
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Key Terms

Blobject- a product designed using CAD or CAM to reduce stying constraints.

Anthropomorphism- using human features to improve the human 

Human interface- the relationship between the product and the user.

Gizmo- a small, multi-functional device.

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2.1 Meeting consumer needs

  • 'Technology push' refers to new scientific and technological advances in a range of existing products.
  • 'Market pull' refers to consumer demand providing the impetus for the development of new products
    • sell to new customers toincrease the company's market share
    • encourage brand loyalty
    • persuade customers to choose their brand and product over alternative brands and products
  • Obsolescence is a feature of many manufactured goods. Products become outdated or are designed to wear out after a certain period of time.
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Some companies deliberately plan to minimise the 'life' of a product in order to maintain sales of future products. (ie. disposable razors, single-use cameras and ballpoint pens)

Obsolescence can also be due to canges in fashion and the addition of alternative features on products. (such as mobile phones)

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2.2 Music on the move (meeting consumer needs)

  • Mechanical music allows music to be played automatically without instruments.
  • Digital technology allows music and vocals to be played without the prescence of the artists
  • Consumer demand has led the demand for mobile technology
    • using smaller devices that hole huge amounts of data, including music.
  • Multipurpose devices such as the iPhone may make earlier products redundant.
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Key Terms

Mechanical- working via a machanism without a direct human intervention.

Electrical- operating sing electricity

Laser- amplification of an output of light producing an intense beam

Digital music- analogue music in transferred into a computer data file

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2.3 Consumer issues and awareness

  • Increasingly, companies use recognised standards to ensure the quality of their products and production methods. This is known as contnuous improvement.
  • Market research enables designers to find out information from the users of products to help improve designs.
  • Product analysis allows designers to look at existing solutions to find out which ideas already work well and why.
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Continuous improvement

Making designs better.

Issues to think of

  • New technology 
  • Legislation
  • Improv to production methods
  • Fashion
  • Environmental impact
  • Product maintenance 
  • Costs
  • Product durability/obsolescence
  • Feedback from client/consumer
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3.1 Design in practice

  • Innovation in product design can harness technology to improve what is already available.
  • Technology push inspires the design of products with new safety features, and uses science in innovative ways.
  • Cleverly designed gadgets can make a real difference to quality of life.
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Key Terms

Innovation- the improvement of existing products that are already being sold

Wide range of users- the inclusive market of people as well as specific exclusive groups of people, whose needs the product should meet

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Self heating gloves

  • Keep people warm for longer
  • Winter sports
  • Light weight, self-heating
  • Partially for people with poor circulation
  • Highly specialised conductors inside the fabric
  • Luthium ion batteries to supply power
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Baby feeding products

Tommy tippee products

Smart materials change colour to show temperature

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One touch can opener

Aimed for people with weak arthritic hands

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3.2 Design implications for the manufacturer

  • A successful new product must capture the imagination of potential buyers, and be seen to be better than its predecessors
  • Manufacturers need to consider the cost of new developments. and how they can use exisisting infrastructure
  • When style and function meet a product can become iconic
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Key Terms

Design engineers- people who try to solve design problems; they do not try to create new designs

Prototyping- developing models in the development stages of a design

Product development- the whole process of bringing a new product to the market. Designers who create, and market, new products are sometimes called new product development designers

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3.4 Three ways of approaching the design

Empirical involves trial and error/ observing and testing each stage of the process

Inuitive design involves deep knowledge of the fielf of work and on ability to predict trends (based on past experiences)

Systematic design involves analysis and observation, being prepared to try different methods, and having an open mind.

  • Design evidence might use all three methods
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3.5 Designer case studies

  • All designers have different starting points for inspiration. The case studies in this chapter show design working in three different areas: food, textiles and resistant materials.
  • First-hand reference is a great starting point for designing.
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Key Terms

Natural forms- shapes and images from nature

Patterns- repeating shapes or objects

Structures- natural or manufactured objects that will withstand loads

Geometry- regular mathematical shapes, which are often found in design

Designers- individuals with a special talent for designing products in many forms

Craftsmanship- specialised skills using tools in specialist areas

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Case Study

Hats, hats, hats: Philip Treacy

Described as surreal and sculptural, Philip Treacy's hand made hats are feats of craftsmanship. He designs hautte couture and ready-to-wear hat collections at his London studio.

Born in rural Ireland in 1967, Treacy found inspiration from the chickens, geese, pheasant and ducks kept by his mother. While still a student, he made Ascot hats for Harrods. He went on to meet Karl Lager Field, then chief designer at Chanel and designed hats for him.

At this time, hats were not very fashionable, but Treacy decided to 'change that'. His fantastical creations included a replica 18th century sailing ship with full riggin and a castle. He often begins by mocking up the shape in straw, then the hat is steamed and moulded on a specially made wooden block.

Treacy also uses more quirky materials for inspiration, including Brillo Pad taxes and photos of faces. He has been designing his own ready-to-wear collection since 1991 and has developed ranges for a number of high street chairs but the heart of his business is still hautte couture hats.

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4.1 Packaging and marketing

Packaging has 6 functions: protection (of product), informing (for buyers and users), containing (tiny pieces or components), transportation (in bulk, lifting), preservation (prevented from deterioration) and display.

PICTPD- I picked product design

Additional info about use, safety, appropriate care and storage can be given on the packaging itself, as can information about recycling the packaging.

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Key Terms

Company logo and trademark- company symbols and service marks used to advertise and display products

Recycle logo- a symbol used to specify different types of recycling destinations

Safety logos- identifiable logos on packaging to give the consumer confidence that the product has been tested

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4.2 Industrial manufacture of packaging

  • The wide variety of packaging materials available includes paper, card and plastics.
  • A number of processes are available for printing packaging materials, including lithography, flexography, screen printing and dye cutting.
  • Types of packaging include blister packaging, skin packaging and security packaging.
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Key Terms

Die cutting- a technique used in the printing process, involving cutting with a blade attached to a plywood base. This is known as a cutting forme.

Creasing- squashing the card so that it can be easily folded.

Blister packaging- packaging using a pre-formed plastic blister and a printed paperboard card which has a heat seal coating.

Skin packaging- packaging used to seal a product between a layer of heated plastic and a layer of adhesive coated paper.

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Key Terms

Lithography- commercial printing, works on the principal that water and oil don't mix.

Flexography- relief printing for lavels, tape, bags, boxes and banners.

Screen printing- uses a mesh to support an ink-blockng stencil. Stencil forms open areas of mesh and a squeegee is moved across the screen stencil forcing/pumping ink in open areas.

Security packaging- packaging can be securely sealed by a number of means:

  • security seals, slamshell packaging, induction sealing or holographic stickers


  • polystyrene sheets provide effective insulation for products, as does corrugated card; bubble wrap and polyethylene foam are also good insulators
  • insulation provides protection for fragile items; it also keeps temperature constant if you are transporting food products or plants.
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4.3 Product marketing- the power of branding

A good brand identity sets a company apart from its competitors.

A brand personality invites the consumer to enter into a relationship with the product and producer.

Market research can help companies identify their target market and shape their brand identity.

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Key Terms

Brand development- creating and developing a strong product identity that will appeal to consumers.

Digital media- a form of advertising on the computer.

Point of sale (POS)- where the product is displayed for sale. A POS is often part of a new product launch. It may be a unique display stand with key information about the product.

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5.1 Human factors (design in the human context)

Physiological factors include: physical limitations; how the body moves; hand-eye co-ordination; strength, size and stamina.

Psychological factors cover the way our senses respond.

Sociological factors cover special groups (including people with disabilities), personal space, access and safety.

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Key Terms

Physiological- relating to the body and its movement

Psychological- relating to the mind and its behaviour

Sociological- human problems in relation to environmental factors

Ergonomics- the study of relationships between people, products and their environment.

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5.2 Inclusive and exclusive design

  • Inclusive design products are designed to be accessible to a wide range of people
  • Exclusive design products are designed to meet the needs of a specific target market
  • Anthropometrics involves human measurements being used to produce ergonomic products.
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Key Terms

Exclusive- excluding people by failing to meet their needs

Inclusive- meeting everyone's needs

Anthropometrics- the study of human measurements

5th to the 95th percentil- the 'normal' range that product designers target

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5.3 Making products safe

  • Legislation ensures that products are safe to use
  • Labelling and packaging can be used to display information
  • The BSI Kitemart indicates that the product meets the British Safety Standards
  • 'CE' marking indicates the product meets European Safety Standards


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  • The Trades Description Act
    • illegal to make false claims about a product
  • The Consumer Protection Act
    • prevent sales of harmful/defective products
  • Sales of Goods Act
    • ban the sale of dangerous products
  • The Weights and Measures Act
    • illegal to sell underweight products
  • Food Safety Act and Food Safety Regulations
  • Food Labelling Regulations
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5.4 Thinking about quality

Quality assurance maintains the quality of manufacturing processes and systems

Quality control ensures the quality of a product through regular testing

Tolerances are the acceptable range of differences from the agreed standard

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Key Terms

QA- quality assurance

QC- quality control

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6.1 Global Responsibility


Renewable rasources can be grown from plants or animals

Non-renewable resources are used up at a faster rate than can be replaced.

The 6 Rs: Reduce, refuse, re-use, repair, recycle, rethink

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Key Terms

Finite- limited

Reduce- use fewer raw materials

Re-use- use a product again

Recycle- turn the product into a new product

Biodegradable- break down naturally with the air of rain and sunlight

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6.2 Social Impact

'Carbon footprint' is the term used to describe the amount of CO2 or other greenhouse gases emitted during the 'life' of a product.

Fairtrade products have been produced under acceptable working conditions and a fair price paid.

The product lifecycle explains the impact of a product on the environment, from its raw material through to its disposal

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Key Terms

Greenhouse gases- gases, such as those produced by burning fossil fuels, which are linked to global warming.

Fossil fuels- coal, oil and gas.

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7.1 Product Manufacture

How many products?

  • Production can be organised in varying quantities, called scales of production
  • One-off profuction involves making a single, individually designed product
  • Mass production involves organising a production line so that large numbers of items are produced and each stage of production is organised in an efficient manner.
  • Continuous production involves high set-up  costs, but exonomies of scale due to the enormous volumes produced.
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Key Terms

Scales of production- refers to the number of products made at any one time

One-off production- the making of a single, unique product

Batch production- when a larger number of products are produced at the same time

Mass production- manufacturing in high volume

Continuous production- highly automated manufacture that runs continuously

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7.2 Organising production

Production can be organised in different ways.

JIT involves the different components arriving at the factory precisely when they are needed.

EDI involves the transfer of electronic files between manufacturer, suppliers and customers, which speeds up orders and efficiency.

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Key Terms

Just in time (JIT) production- production organised so that the supply of materils is simultaneous with the need.

Electronic data interface (EDI)- the transfer of structured data from on computer system to another without human intervention.

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Case Study

Textiles: an EDI

An international chain of clothing superstores has special tills with an electronic point of sale (EPOS) facility. These tills gather information about how many garmnts have been sold throughout the chain and calculate what stock each store will need the next day. Delivery instructions go direct to suppliers, and lorries begin delivery.

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Just In Time

JIT is used for

  • buttons
  • milk
  • bread
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7.3 What is stock control?

Managing stock levels is important for the success of any business.

Computer technology, including barcode scanners, EDI and product data management (PDM), can all contribute an enormous amount to stock management.


  • A key use of ICT is to facilitate stock control and make sure that manufacturers don't lose profit by running out of stock.
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Key Terms

Stock control- managing the amount of stock held, by monitoring, ordering and outflow.

Product data management (PDM)- a form of computer software used globally in business process automation

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8.1 The use of ICT in production

Computer aided design and manufacture

  • Computers have three systems:
    • input (CAD)
    • process
    • output (CAM)
  • CAM can be used to monitor and control production processes
  • CAD can be used for rapid prototyping and modelling
  • CAD, CNC and CAM are all used regularly in the school workshop
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Key Terms

CAD- computer aided design

CAM- computer aided manufacture

CNC- computer numerical control

Stress analysis- an engineering discipline used to determine whether a material or object can withstand forces.

Rapid prototyping- using a computer to transfer drawings into 3D for model making.

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8.2 Extending the use of ICT in manufacturing

Video conferencing and remote manufacturing have enabled companies to spread their workforce globally.

Ideas can be developed through modelling in CAD, prototyping and mock-ups, and orthographic drawings.

Software sharing enables ideas and information to be shared instantly around the world.

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Key Terms

Video conferencing- meetings linked to a webcam and screen that can be accessed worldwide.

Prototype- a detailed, working model

Mock-up- a rough prototype made at low-cost

Orthohraphic projection- drawings showing three dimensions in 2D

CAD models- models designed digitally using special software

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8.3 Automating large-scale production

CNC (computer numerical control) machinery can be used for automated manufacturing.

Robots can be programmed to perform tasks previously performed by employees.

CNC can be used to program flexible manufacturing systems, enabling different products to be made at the same time.

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Key Terms

Automation- the use of an automated production system

CNC- computer numerical control

CNC robots- machinery controlled by computer numerical control for use in manufacturing

Flexible manufacturing- manufacturing controlled by a host computer that will log and sequentially operate several jobs.

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9.5 Techniques for cutting materials

Press knife tools are used to cut a wide variety of sheet materials

Chiselling is used to cut out difficult shapes, particularly rectangular hollows

Planing is a process of shaving off small layers of material

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Key Terms

Shearing- a cutting and slicing action 

Die cutting- a method of cutting and creasing material using a simple press knife principle

Chiselling- a process used for chipping away pieces of timber, metal or concrete

Planing- shaving thin layers of timber from the surface

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9.6 Manufacturing processes (wastage)

Materials can be formed by various techniques of cutting and shearing to meet the desired shape and finish.

The use of machines allows this to be done with great speed and accuracy, especially if CNC is used.

Safety issues are crucial.

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Key Terms

Wastage- a process that removes material

Drilling- making cylindrical holes in solid materials using a rotary action

Routing- using profiled cutters to decorate or make consistent shapes in material.

CNC routing- routing controlled by input from a computer.

Laser cutters- tools for cutting, scoring or engraving

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9.10 An introduction to conditioning

  • Conditioning allows the properties of materials to be changed by applying heat, chemicals or mechanical action.
  • Metals can be heat-treated in a variety of ways.
  • Clay and similar materials can be heated in a kiln to around 1000degrees Celsius, which causes the particles to fuse together.
  • Conditioning textiles can make them waterproof or breathable, stain-resistant or appear worn.
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Key Terms

Hardening- the heating of steel to 720degrees Celsius and cooling it rapidly in water to make it harder (also called quenching).

Tempering- a heat treatment technique for metals and alloys

Kiln firing- a method of 'fixing' day or ceramics by heating it to around 1000degrees Celsius.

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9.13 Finishing in print

Lithography plates are chemically treated to make the image areas resistant to water.

In screen printing, the fine mesh screen acts as a printing plate

Flexography uses flexible plates made from rubber or plastic.

Embassing involves creating a three-dimensional design by controlled use of pressure and heat.

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Key Terms

Offset lithography- commonly known as litho printing, it is the most common form of commercial printing.

Photochemical process- a process that uses chemicals and light to prepare metal plates for use in printing

CMYK- an abbreviation for cyan, magenta, yellow and black- the essential colours used in all colour printing.

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10.3 Paper and card

Paper and board is generally produced on an industrial scale, and is usually specified by size and weight.

Paper-based materials have a wide range of uses, and can be laminated with other materials for specific purposes.

Paper and board can be produced with a wide range of different properties, textures and surface finishes for different applications.

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Key Terms

Cellulose- plant-based fibres used for paper-making

Board- paper- based material, but thicker. Any form of paper weighing more than 200gsm is classed as board.

Laminating- strengthening the material by building it up in layers with the sae or another material.

Layout and tracing paper; cartridge paper; cardboard; solid whitboard; duplex board; duplex board; foli lined board; corrugated board.

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10.8 Textiles

Ther are three groups of fibres: natural, regenerated and synthetic.

There are three types of fabric: knitted, woven and non-woven.

Synthetic fibres have led to the development of 'technical textiles'.

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Key Terms

Natural fibres- fibres made for animal, plant or mineral sources

Regenerated fibres- fibres produced from natural raw materials by a chemical process.

Synthetic fibres- artificial fibres obtained solely by chemical means, mainly from oil.

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Natural Fibres

  • Natural
    • Animal or plant based
    • Animal
      • hair/ fur
      • wool
      • silk
    • Plant
      • cotton
      • linen
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Regenerated Fibres

  • Regenerated
    • Cellulose-based fibres
    • Part natural and part manufactured/ man made
      • Viscose
      • Rayon
      • Acetate
      • Triacetate
      • Modal
      • Tencel
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Synthetic Fibres

  • Synthetic
    • Made from chemicals obtained from oil, coal/ petrol based chemicals
      • polyester
      • nylon
      • acrylic
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Knitted Fabric

  • Knitted
    • Spun/ twisted one continuous fibre (yarn)
    • Made by forming locks/ machines with lots of needles
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Woven Fabric

  • Woven
    • Spun/ twisted together to form one continuous fibre (yarn)
    • Made on machines called looms
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Non-woven Fabric

  • Non-woven
    • Made by bonding/ felting
    • Bonding
      • joining synthetic fibres with resin
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10.10 Electronic control components

Electronic circuits are usually made by soldering individual components onto a printed board

Electronic systems consist of an imput, process and output

Many electronic products contain programmable microcontrollers or micro-processors.

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Key Terms

Printed circuit board (PCB)- an insulating board containing conductive tracks for connecting electronic components

Components- basic electronic units connected to other units by being soldered onto a printed board to create an electronic circuit.

Soldering- the process of attaching a component to a printed circuit board by melting solder to make a permanent join

Solder- a metallic alloy used in soldering

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11.3 Textile-based materials and food products

Blending textiles produces a combined material where the properties of each contributing material are enhanced.

Fabrics can be coated to produce combined materials for specific purposes.

Technical textiles have many high performance applications.

Ingredients used in the manufacture of food products can have their working characteristics modified.

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Key Terms

Combined material- a material made from two or more different materials, with each material still retaining its own identity in the new material.

Working characteristics- the way a material behaves when it is shaped and formed.

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Common fabric blends

  • Polyester and cotton
    • crease-resistant, comfortable, easily laundered, dries quickly and is ironed at a lower temperature than cotton.
  • Nylon and wool
    • more absorbant, softer, stronger, durable
  • Nylon and acetate
    • more absorbant
  • Silk and wool
    • subtly textured
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Technical textiles

Clothing textiles. Performance materials such as GORE-TEX are waterproof, wind-proof and highly breathable. Automotive textiles. The internal structure of atyre is made-up from textile fibres including cotton, nylon and polyester. Aerospace textiles. Woven fabric structures form part of composite materials used in aircraft manufacture.

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11.4 Smart materials and smart systems

  • Smart materials react to changes in their environment
  • Smart systems are products designed to react to changes in their environment
  • Smart materials and smart systems allow products to be designed with greater functionality
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Key Terms

Properties- how materials perform in everyday life

Functionality- what a product does

UV (ultraviolet) rays- a light source with a shorter wavelength than visible light

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11.5 Modern materials

Modern materials are those that have been developed over the past 50 years.

Many modern materials are a mixture of materials, and are often classed as composite materials.

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Key Terms

Composite materials- materials made from two more different materials, with each material still retaining its own identity in the new material.

Waterproof and breathable

  • Gore-tex
  • Sympatex
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11.6 Smart and modern materials

Case Study

D30 protective beanie

Not everyone who skis or snowboards wants to wear a helmet. But with the introduction of D30, it is now possible to wear head protection that is a little more stylish. D30 is a specially engineered material made with intelligent molecules. The beanie shown in the book (p132) is soft and flexible but on impact the molecules lock together to absorb shock in a similar way to rigid helmets. D30 is used in a wide range of products.

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Key Terms

Piezoelectric- describes the ability of some materials to generate electricity when deformed by mechanical pressure. This effect is also reversible, causing pizoelectric materials to deform when a small voltage is applied.

Quantum tunnelling composites- smart materials with unusual electrical properties. QTCs, in their normal state, act as insulators, but when compressed they conduct electricity

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11.7 Standard components

Standard components are pre-manufactured parts used by individuals (for example, buttons on a hand knitted cardigan) or large manufacturers (for example, USB sockets on MP3 players).

Standard components play an important part in many manufacturing industries, including the electronics, food and textiles industries.

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Key Terms

Economies of scales- mass production allows products to be produced at a lower cost

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