Advances in technology have allowed people to be connected to one another on a global scale. This greater connectedness leads to more interactions, which also affects the thoughts and beliefs of consumers. According to McKinsey & Company, shifts in shopping behavior due to economic pressures, store closings, and changing priorities have affected brand loyalty.
Thirty-six percent of consumers are trying new product brands, while 25% are incorporating a new private-label brand into their lives. Changes due to living conditions, altering activities, and shifting beliefs make way for products that are either better or different, ones that can adapt to the specific needs of the individual whether that be in color, material, or overall design. These changes in the way people view and purchase products also affects product design and the need for faster time-to-market.
Adapting to the market can often be a highly complex struggle especially in today’s design and engineering environment. Most companies are now having to organize a system that includes remote workers, contract manufacturers, and outside design firm input. All of these teams must be able to coordinate and work together on a single platform that is simple and interconnected with the entire manufacturing process including the capability to do automated modeling for design iterations, configure product variations where needed, simulate and validate potential designs, and provide manufacturing integration.
Cloud solutions, such as Autodesk Fusion, as you will see, are a viable approach that can pull all aspects of product creation and production together onto one simple to use platform. With the added supply chain challenges that have emerged, this interoperability of different teams both inside and outside the company has become a requirement for companies who wish to succeed at developing and delivering products quickly, efficiently, and on-time. But let’s break this down into key segments for better understanding.
Faster Time-to-Market Strategies
It is no surprise that market trends are shifting at a faster pace than ever before and will most likely continue to do so. This leads to the need for faster time-to-market while paying close attention to details such as materials use, production efficiencies, and overall cost controls. This is an excellent time for start-ups and established engineering firms to bring creativity and innovation to the forefront.
Faster time-to-market means that new products can be designed, tested, and delivered to the consumer while the next iteration or innovation is in process. Not every product will be a winner, but creativity and innovation at a faster rate will ensure that your company has a better chance at staying ahead of the competition.
Bringing a product to market faster than your competitors can provide a significant advantage in capturing market share and mindshare early on. This can also help companies test the market while generating revenue, helping to fuel further innovations. For successful products, this begins with a time of early adopter enthusiasm that pushes other consumers to join in, expanding market share and maximizing product life cycles. All this leads to brand recognition as well as a brand’s reputation, plus provides your company the ability to respond to customer needs for the next iteration or innovation—adding to long-term business growth.
Automated Modeling in Product Development
The right tools are an essential part of being a nimble operation. One way to kickstart your creativity is with automated modeling capabilities within Autodesk Fusion (Figure 1). The automated modeling capabilities in Fusion were created as an efficient tool for use within the design workspace where modeling takes place. In this way, it provides access to solutions by allowing users to play with different shapes without time-consuming upfront definitions. Enabling rapid design exploration early on opens the door toward greater innovation. Users can rapidly explore and create new design concepts, evaluate the feasibility of consolidating multiple components into a single device, and develop complex connection methods between various parts of a system.
All an engineer needs to do is identify surrounding geometry to connect to, select the faces of the bodies or components to connect or avoid, and click generate. In a few minutes, design alternatives populate the dialog while previews appear on the canvas. Once alternatives are complete, an engineer can easily accept a group of editable features to be added. These results can be edited or used in any other Fusion workflow.
Streamlined Manufacturing Workflows
Configurations in Fusion provide a streamlined approach to design optimization, risk mitigation, and cost efficiency. Seamless integration of CAD, CAM, CAE, and PCB tools through this cloud-based platform provides designers, engineers, and manufacturers with fully integrated professional tools. Now, users can manage multiple design variations within a single model without cloning models or creating new files for each design variant. A single “configured design” houses a configuration table that enables users to define and manage multiple configurations as sub-models within the same document.
Configurable aspects in Fusion can range from feature parameters and component visibility to material types, appearances, and complex rule-based settings. Users can group these into custom theme tables to minimize complexity when dealing with multiple similar aspects. Each configuration can be assigned its own part number and description for quick referencing.
Once configurations are created, they become part of workflows across the entire Fusion ecosystem, whether you’re working on rendering, drawings, simulation, or manufacturing (see Figure 2). This allows the user to generate drawings for each configuration, set up and solve simulation studies, create manufacturing setups, and even generate toolpaths — without switching between different design files.
Ultimately, speed-to-market means a series of critical steps, including accelerated prototyping and design phases, cost-effectiveness through integration, design flexibility across multiple industries, streamlined manufacturing workflows, and enhanced testing. Configurations are great for robust customization for consumer goods, particularly smart products and customizable items. Offering multiple product variations to the consumer is important but adds design and manufacturing complexities that are alleviated through the use of configurations.
As you can see, configurations in Fusion impact everything from conceptualization and prototyping to manufacturing and feedback integration. When it comes to designing consumer products, it’s essential to be able to collaborate through a cloud-based platform that is available to all teams involved. This approach will put customer feedback at the center of your design cycles. Autodesk Fusion, as a solution for time-to-market, customer need variability, and streamlined production will allow users to respond rapidly with solutions that customers value.