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Research business design thinking innovation 2
Leading Organizational Transformation
Business Design & Innovation
Designs for small series

Business Design & Innovation

Designs for small series

In this project, the project partners Industrial Design Center, Sirris and Flanders Inshape developed a design method – with supporting tools – for smaller series. This method can be used by businesses as well as students. A wide range of production techniques and materials is used. Next to the classic production methods, additive manufacturing and digital production techniques are increasingly used for the production of small series.

Type project Tetra-project
Project partners University of Ghent (Industrial Design Center), Sirris and Flanders Inshape
Duration January 01, 2014 - December 31, 2015

Design method

With the developed design method, companies and students can gear the design of a product to the production techniques they have selected. For smaller series, what is the impact of a production technique or a combination of production techniques on product characteristics such as shape, size, choice of material, finishing quality, product appearance, tactile and visual characteristics, sustainability, …?

Constructive co-design

The design method also emphasizes the importance of a constructive collaboration (co-design) with suppliers in Flanders, who are in the European top. Currently these organizations are little known; SMEs and suppliers do not speak the same language, which leads to very few products for small series being produced in Flanders. This method was developed and tested in a dozen Flemish companies.

Interactive roadmap

The validated version is translated into an interactive ‘roadmap’ and a ‘technology database’. The ‘roadmap’ describes the design process for small series step by step so no critical success factors can be overlooked. The corresponding ‘technology database’ is a selection tool in which each available production technique for small series is illustrated using samples, a descriptive document, possibilities and limits, products achieved, etc. This allows the design team to discuss, compare and communicate about production techniques, choice of material, finishing quality, product appearance, tactile and visual characteristics.

Using this roadmap, and the corresponding design methods, databases and design tools will enable the company to:

  • make a more strategic choice on whether to add the small series to the “value proposition” to the customer;
  • to choose the correct production technique(s) for a specific product design;
  • to assess the impact of the selected production technique on the product design;
  • to select the adequate supplier and to get suppliers involved in the design and
  • to produce the small series.