If one imagines that in the future there will be no plastic injection moulding machines with tool inserts and complex set-up times in the factory halls, but 3D printers with maximum component flexibility, free choice of colour and material - then one has already described an interesting picture of what the future could look like. In the case of 3D printer production, there is then an online design matrix for the consumer, the selection takes place via a web-based product configurator.
The printing and paper industry has already migrated through the networked, digital change process. The term Industry 4.0 refers to a similar but much more complex process.
In the future, the smart factory will enable networked industrial production with very flexible manufacturing and assembly and thus also an increase in the number of variants through to the individualization of products from quantity 1. For industrial designers, this means moving away from individual products and towards modular, flexible product systems and complex platform strategies.
A further aspect is added: Intelligent products with sensor technology and a digital core will increasingly force the fusion of product and service and change not only the requirements for design and handling, but also the companies in their relationship to the customer. 3D CAD is the connecting element in all areas of the company. The industrial designer plays a key role here, knowing how to simplify and cleverly structure complex content.
Designers are impulse and idea generators and today can map the complete process chain of product development. An acceleration of digitalization will be noticeable in all areas and expand the field of activity of industrial designers. If one thinks of robotics and autonomous mobility, the industrial designer's core competence of developing ergonomically perfect and workflow-improving product solutions will be further strengthened.
You can find out more about Industry 4.0 at: