What Is an Industrial Design Studio?

Terry Masters
Terry Masters
Man with a drill
Man with a drill

An industrial design studio helps companies conceive, formalize and develop new products or re-design existing products. Using this type of studio is a way to outsource research and development (R&D) for entrepreneurs or companies that do not have the capacity to take an idea through to the prototype stage in-house. The consultants bring a level of expertise to the project that the principals may not have and cannot afford to hire on a permanent basis.

Entrepreneurs often have ideas for new products. If the development of those ideas was dependent upon the entrepreneur's ability to create a working prototype from the idea, many new products might be left undiscovered. Product development requires expert skills in the sciences, engineering, commercial art and manufacturing, at least. Even a fully funded and operating company can have difficulty rallying the talent needed to invent new products. An industrial design studio gives an inventor access to the help he needs, and the option to pay for just the amount of expertise required to bring the idea to fruition.

Another way of using an industrial design studio is to hire them to come up with new product ideas or to re-design a floundering product. Instead of bringing an inventor's idea to prototype, the studio takes various inputs from the client on things like goals, objectives, desired industry and market position, and uses the information to envision viable products that the company can go on to develop. All of this work is for the benefit of the client, so the company can retain all of the intellectual property rights that attach to the new ideas and products that result from the working relationship.

The goal of an industrial design studio is to develop a physical sample, or prototype, of a product idea. This usually entails a visioning stage where the studio presents concept ideas to the client. The studio then creates technical drawings of the product using specialized computer software. Many studios use a manufacturing processes called solids modeling and rapid prototyping to create a working sample.

Prototypes allow clients to test the form and function of a product before approving it for mass production. An industrial design studio can be critical to this process. There are often significant divides between a great concept, a working prototype and a viable mass manufacturing process that can control costs and produce consistently high quality. The studio lends its expertise to every stage of the development process, until the company has a product that is ready for the market.

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