Meticulous plans needed in plastics design

Paul Boughton

Cost-effective, innovative plastics designs are the result of painstaking planning. In order for the plastics industrial design (ID) to flow into the next generation, researchers usually follow a three-step process -- scouting the next trend, blending ID with design engineering, and cultivating the celebrity designer crossover.

The current trend in plastics design is to give products a smooth, edgy, metallic plastic or brushed aluminium look and metamerism effect, wherein the colour changes at different viewing angles.
Soft-touch thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) material overmoulded onto rigid substrates is another trend that has finally taken off.
The next design trend, Frost & Sullivan, is likely to be a combination of hard and oft looks, such as brushed aluminium ith wood.
Meanwhile, resin suppliers continue to introduce decorating products, adding variety to the design palette.
With design and industrial engineers working in tandem during product development, aesthetics have received as much attention as function. Manufacturers rely on ID to add value to a product that has become a commodity. Customers also tend to take greater interest in designs when ell-known architects and designers work on consumer products.
These designers will also look to accomplish design and ID goals with a single material and avoid assembly and two-shot moulding in order to reduce cost of design without having to concede on the elegance of the solution.
Greater interaction between design engineering and ID is expected to help achieve better product differentiation and faster time-to-market. At the same time, there should also be some distinction of their ideas in order to avoid greater compromise.
Concepts of concurrent or simultaneous engineering have subtly made their way into the design-engineering field.