Heading into the holiday season, it’s time to take a step back and take a look all the things we should be thankful for. Product development has seen a lot of changes in technology these past few years. Here are a few product development technologies we should be thankful for.

3D Printing is Revolutionizing the Supply Chain

3D printing is making a huge impact on the supply chain by cutting logistics costs for manufacturers small and large. 3D printing allows manufacturers to build a micro factory with their supply chain partners that are local as well as cost-effective. This reduces the distances of which products travel within the supply chain, eliminating the need to send products across the globe to meet customer demands when there is the alternative of designing and producing local with additive manufacturing.

Product Evolution Continues to Grow

Not so much a technology as a shift in thinking for product design, there is an increased focus on how a product’s design can change over time based on consumer needs and demands, or the desire to enter into new sectors. Having the ability to map out that kind of product evolution is a huge competitive edge for companies looking to stand out in an often crowded market, and more companies are embracing the idea.

CAD is Changing Product Design

CAD has developed impressive capabilities over the years. Product designers are no longer constrained to working with 2D drafts, or  3D wireframes. Designers create 3D solid models, whose virtual properties can be defined to match those of the intended product. Designers can  use CAD software to perform analysis on their virtual model without needing to create a physical prototype first, giving them the ability to test how their design will react to heat, pressure, physical stress, and other conditions.

Design Documentation Has Come a Long Way

There was a time not too long ago when design documentation were simplistic documents with limited use. Now, design documentation offers much more for the end-user, benefiting several departments involved or impacted by a new product design. Design documentation can now include:

  • Photo realistic renderings for marketing and investor packets
  • Animations to illustrate operation, assembly, interactions, etc.
  • Assembly process documents

Outsourcing Aspects of Product Development is Easier

Companies who did not have the resources to implement a product development project beginning to end used to have limited options on finding professional product development companies to assist them, but technology is changing that too!  Today, you can Google “product development outsourcing” and find numerous companies that specialize in being an outsourced partner. Sites such as LinkedIn are now full of inquiries from companies looking to outsource product design to capable partners. The gig economy has completely changed how product development projects are now handled.

Technology is evolving and the maturity of software as well as rapid prototyping capabilities are becoming more cost effective. Over the next decade, the ‘time-to-prototype’ if likely to be much faster than ever before – likely counted in days or even hours (for simple products). We have a lot to be thankful for when it comes to product development technologies!

Morten Jensen
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