Product design is always dynamic and ever-changing, so it makes sense to consider what the big product design trends to watch in 2018 might be. Let’s take a look at a few on the horizon.

3D Printing Continues to Boom

It’s not much of a stretch to predict that 3D printing will continue to change the landscape of product design. The types of materials used in 3D printing will continue to expand beyond the basics. Printers will continue to get less expensive and therefore more reasonable for companies to obtain and use. And the industries that will leverage the power of 3D printing will go well beyond the usual, including the expanded use in aerospace, automotive and medical industries. 2018 is looking to be an exciting year for 3D printing and product development!

3D Printing Will Go Beyond Prototyping

For many product developers, the use of 3D printing is primarily for prototyping, as it provides a substantial savings to create a prototype of a product to test it thoroughly before mass manufacturing. While that application won’t be going away anytime soon, 2018 appears to be the year when 3D printing will expand substantially beyond prototyping to be used for functional parts, models, A/B testing and even casting. This can allow product designers to expand how they currently design, test and even manufacture products in the future at great cost and time savings.

More Product Designs Will Go Green

With more and more people becoming aware of the threats our actions and products pose on the Earth, and global warming being a pressing matter for international organizations and individuals alike, environmentally friendly products might soon be the only products worth developing in the consumer’s mind. 2018 should see a significant increase of product designs that focus on green; whether they be completely new designs or a result of product evolution that brings an existing product into a greener functionality.

CAD Software Goes to the Cloud

While some CAD software programs already are cloud-based, the concept was initially met with great controversy. CAD in the cloud” as a model where software applications are delivered to the user over the Internet (software not stored on a network, desktop PC, laptop, etc.). CAD users now appear to be warming up to the idea…slowly. The concern is understandable. When your business’ vital software is moved to the cloud, you have less control over it. For many product designers, that’s a dealbreaker, as having complete control over product design, from ideation to manufacturing, is critical to success. 2018 won’t see a complete move to cloud-based CAD, but the adoption will continue to grow.

Outsourcing Will Continue to Expand

The gig society is here to stay, and companies are continuing to embrace the idea of virtual collaboration for many functionalities. That now includes product design, where many reputable product design firms specialize in the ability to collaborate virtually during different phases of product development. 2018 will truly be the year when organizations get comfortable outsourcing product development outside their organization.

What else might impact product design in 2018?  It’s difficult to say but one thing is for sure, 2018 will be a year of exciting developments in the product design industry. These are just a few product design trends to watch in 2018. What trends do you think are on the horizon for next year?