DesignNews spoke to GrabCAD founder and CEO Hardi Meybaum about his new book and how he thinks product design is evolving with open engineering.
Product development is a team sport, but most companies practice it solo. Companies could draw on the creativity of engaged customers. Instead they go back to the same small group of internal experts for new ideas that aren’t new at all. Designers and engineers could be connecting with marketing, sales, customer support, suppliers, and most importantly, customers. But they sit in cubicles and occasionally try to convey their ideas to outsiders by way of slides. According to Hardi Meybaum, this needs to change.
In his new book, The Art of Product Design, Meybaum argues that product design doesn’t have to be so isolated, and for an increasing number of companies, it isn’t. How are these companies different? They’ve opened up their product development process, embracing what Meybaum calls “open engineering.”
Meybaum runs the CAD sharing service, GrabCAD, so he has plenty of experience in helping engineers share product development activities. He believes connectivity is the single most important recent change in design and development. He told Design News:
In the past we had to be physically co-located to have any hope of designing together. I had to be able to show you what I was working on, and the easiest way to do that was to show you my screen. When we got to prototyping it was even worse. Physical prototypes were expensive, fragile, and hard to move around. Digital communication and modeling makes it much easier to get feedback from other engineers and stakeholders. That’s all driven by connectivity.
Design collaboration has been around for more than a decade, pioneered primarily in aerospace by Boeing and its suppliers. These days, tools to support design collaboration are proliferating and are widely available. The only barrier is willingness. According to Meybaum, some design engineers are more willing than others.