Product Design vs. Industrial Design

Product Design vs. Industrial Design
Article by Jelena Relić
Last Updated: March 21, 2023

Product design vs. industrial design are interchangeably used terms but are not the same. To understand their difference, the first step is to understand each individually.

Everything is not straightforward when it comes to product and industrial design. While some argue that they mean the same, others offer starkly contradicting definitions.

In this article, we will explore both product design and industrial design and find out the process behind each, along with the differences between the two.

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Introduction to Product and Industrial Design

Outside the topic of research and development (R&D), industrial design vs. product design are often used interchangeably, but this is quite confusing.

So, exploring their differences would be an excellent way to get a clear picture of both.

It is said that an industrial designer can be a product designer, but a product designer cannot be an industrial designer. A product designer does not require knowledge of CAD or manufacturing processes.

In some ways, various aspects of product and industrial design coincide.

Before getting into their differences, let’s define product design and industrial design separately.

Understanding the Process Behind Product Design

As opposed to industrial design, product design is designing products based on unique concepts and ideas. One must analyze widely varied and uncommon products before starting the manufacturing process.

To put it simply, product design is related to fabricating products with distinct aspects and design features. With the increased use of technology-aided designing, engineering experts can devise complicated and intricate parts with much ease and expertise.

Product design is also referred to as a subset of industrial design. However, product design does not relate to the bulk generation of commodities.

It denotes product fabrication with unique features. Seeking the professional expertise of product designers can boost the process and solve problems by replicating the required products as per the constraints.

Entrepreneurs often come up with ideas that they can transform into life-changing products. A product design company, which is also conversant with different graphic design types, comes into the picture to shape unique product ideas.

Product designing is the process of turning a mere concept into a functional product. An easy-to-manufacture product often fails to bring the intended sales. Similarly, one with striking aesthetics but compromised functionality draws poor customer feedback.

Thus, striking a balance between functionality and aesthetics is a critical aspect of product design. Product designers use CAD software to create designs, mockups, and drafts and put the idea together into an authentic product.

Understanding the Process Behind Industrial Design

The large-scale manufacturing process has enabled people to maintain a higher living standard. Pieces of machinery and engineering tools have made the multiplication of identical objects through mass production straightforward.

Industrial design revolves around the mass production of a high volume of similar products through machines used by people. Industrial designers have revolutionized the industry in all aspects, starting from bulk manufacturing parts to sophisticated systems.

Optimizing and streamlining the mass production process paved the way to the industrial revolution. Despite many engineering challenges, industrial designers formulate ways to produce aesthetically appealing items in bulk at affordable prices.

Industrial design companies begin by contriving an initial product design and then focus on mass-producing it with minimum hassles. The experts analyze the data and use the resources to turn ideas into reality in a Fastrack mode.

Industrial designing is not restricted to the CAE and CAD drafts. Instead, every component is explained in detail to understand the manufacturing techniques that would be required.

However, delineating each component and how they fit together is not enough to succeed in the industrial design process. For instance, products are given a draft angle to be quickly ejected from the mold.

Also, the product walls should be thick enough to ensure sustainable manufacturing. Minute and intricate details like these are differentiating factors that separate product design from industrial design.

Product Design vs. Industrial Design: What Are the Differences?

Awareness of the difference between industrial and product design is essential, especially when choosing between a product design company and an industrial design company.

When planning to create a new product, hiring two separate designers for the same product is unnecessary; instead, look for relevant design companies. This saves time and money.

When you compare the product design services and the industrial designing services for a product, you need to design and manufacture.

Suppose you fail to seek the appropriate help based on your requirements. In that case, manufacturers may reject a design based on the confusion and complexity of how to create a part.

Industrial design covers a broader area. The product design team works based on the input the industrial design engineers provided.

Industrial design encompasses activities that consist of product specifications, presentations, and aesthetics. On the other hand, product design involves elaborate designing of the products based on the specifications offered by industrial design engineers.

The following table outlines the differences between industrial design and product design:



Industrial design revolves around the product development lifecycle. 

Product design is a subset of industrial design. 

Industrial designers deal with the aesthetics of the products and their manufacturing. 

Product designers emphasize the detailed design of the products. 

It is about developing solutions. 

It is about making the solutions reach the manufacturer and the customers. 

Industrial design has to do with the entire function, aesthetics, user interface (UI), and user experience (UX) of the products. 

Product designing involves function-specific teams such as mechanical, electrical, and software engineers are involved. 

This field ensures that the product design meets customer expectations and that they are suitable for mass production. 

This field ensures the product is functioning according to their specifications and applicable standards. 

It involves activities that cover the entire product lifecycle. 

It involves activities that cover up the processes leading to the final product development. 

There might not be many differences between product design and industrial design, but the subtle ones are worth noting.

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Takeaways on Product and Industrial Design

Understanding the difference between product and industrial design is imperative to choosing the right kind of design service for an intended product. Considering that both product and industrial designers play crucial roles in the industry, their expertise helps transform an idea into a viable product.

Selecting the right product design company ensures that you have experts who take comprehensive care of everything from how to name a product to how to overcome possible setbacks in the product development cycle.

At the same time, the industrial design company should be able to provide mass production and value engineering while also challenging the feasibility of an idea.

Overall, with a thin line between product and industrial design services, both play a significant role in their quarter. When you have a clear idea of the requirements of product designing, defining the difference between the two becomes simpler. A professional product design agency can help with this.

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