As a person who’s been creating things for a long time I developed a design philosophy many years ago and I’ve maintained that throughout the old days of carving things out of metal and welding them together, through machining parts and into the world of 3D printing. Below are some of the things I’ve learned that work for me.
Don’t design something you can’t create
This sounds stupid on the face of it, but unless you plan on buying or building new equipment you need to design for your current tools. I can’t tell you how many times in my younger years I’d get a blueprint from a new engineer that couldn’t be built. I’d walk him into the shop, show him all the tools and equipment and how they work. Then I’d show him something he designed, explained why it couldn’t be made by us, made sure he understood it, then asked him to redesign it so we could make it.
Design with your customer in mind
A no brainer, but I see it otherwise all the time. I’m a no frills kind of guy and I tend to design that way. And if it’s something for me that’s what I want, but maybe the client wants something fancy. Maybe this isn’t a tool or utility part, maybe it’s a medieval fantasy sword for a cosplay event. Now you’re thinking “I’m not designing that kind of silly crap”. And that’s great, I’ll be happy to take their money after they leave your place unhappy. So if you want a happy customer, not just a satisfied customer, but a “Holy shit, dude, this is fantastic!” customer, one that’s grinning from ear to ear when they write that check, then design for them, not for yourself.
Keep your customer in the loop
If you’re designing something fairly complex, design just a part to demonstrate what you have in mind and show it to the customer for their reaction. This can save you a boatload of time and prevent you from throwing out many hours of work.
Let’s leave it there for now. I’m going to touch on this again in the future however, so stay tuned.