Constant Innovation is the Only Way
Don’t stand still in a downturn says Amina West of Autodesk
There are two ways to deal with adverse economic conditions and the steep rise in the cost of raw materials. The first is to keep your head down, dig your heels in and wait for things to improve. The second is to be bold, think strategically and continue to invest in innovation in order to get the best designed products to market as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible.
Innovation is at the very cornerstone of survival during a downturn, but how can manufacturers cope without escalating costs? One of the answers is to do as much work as possible on screen rather than on paper or in the real world.
The latest 3D design technology enables users to do this from the very beginning of the process – the ideas stage. Intuitive and easy to use tools enable designers to capture ideas as they come into their head without necessarily having the finished product in mind. They can refine the design over as many iterations as necessary without clocking up an excessive time overheads.
Designs can be discussed and explained to colleagues and especially, to the client enabling immediate feedback and subsequent tailoring. In addition, by being able to fix the concept at this stage means expectations are met and expensive changes further downstream are minimised. This digital model can even be used for marketing – images can be incorporated in brochures or sales material without having to to arrange photography or inaccurate artist’s impressions.
When the model goes into engineering, the latest software functionality enables the team to check for clashes and interferences and carry out stress analysis and other necessary testing. Engineers can also experiment with different design alternatives here too – this time trying different materials including more economic alternatives to help keep prices low but still maintain realistic profit margins.
When a definitive digital model has been passed on to manufacturing, and the design data carefully managed and stored, the design team can use parts or the whole design to build new ideas and innovate further.
Not only do digital prototypes enable design engineers to work freely and creatively without huge overheads, they also accelerate the entire process, ensuring products reach the market while demand is still keen and before competititors.