Industrial Design vs Product Design : What is the Difference

Industrial design and product design are the terms used interchangeably. It is very difficult to tell, What the difference is between industrial design and product design ?  In this article we will try to understand what is the difference between Product Design vs Industrial DesignClick this link!! to know in detail about product design and development process.

To understand the difference, firstly we will understand what is industrial design? and what is product design?

Before the first industrial revolution all products were manufactured manually. As a result production volumes were very small. After the first industrial revolution, Industrial Design was introduced to the world. Following tasks were assigned to industrial designers.

  • Design products that not only perform their required function but also appeal customers to buy new products and replace existing products.
  • Product design for manufacturing (mass production).
  • Reduce product manufacturing cost (value engineering).

Industrial designers keep their focus on product features, aesthetics, customer requirements, manufacturing and cost. They don’t go into technical details of a product.

What is Product Design ?

Product Design is a subset of industrial design. A product designer is responsible for delivering a fully functional product. They go in detail of each product function. Product design is further classified into various categories such as mechanical product design, electrical product design etc.

In a product design team, a mechanical engineer is responsible for the mechanical design whereas an electrical engineer is responsible for the electrical design of the product. They ensure product industrial design and functional requirements are fulfilled. 

Different product design teams are assigned different responsibilities. For example, if a team is working on the design of a refrigerator. Product design team is formed which includes team members from mechanical, hardware, electrical, embedded software etc. Responsibility is assigned according to the engineer’s technical skills.

What is the difference between Product Design and Industrial Design?

Industrial design is a broader term and product design is done as per the input provided by industrial designers. In other words industrial design involves activities such as product specification, aesthetics and look finalization. Whereas product design involves detailed design of product as per specifications provided by the industrial design team.

To be a good industrial designer you need to have good knowledge of your product, competitors and your customer. Whereas to be a good product designer you should have good domain technical knowledge.

For new startups and small companies the same engineer can play the role of both industrial designer and product designer.

For example, as a mechanical design engineer in a small company, i was assigned tasks such as product aesthetic design, benchmarking of customer products and product design with budget constraints. Click this link to know about the benefits and disadvantages of automation.

This image shows the work flow between industrial design Product design and manufacturing.
Work flow between Industrial Design, Product Design and Manufacturing teams

Industrial Design vs Product Design

Following is the summary of the difference between product design and industrial design.

Industrial DesignProduct Design
Broader term used in product development lifecycle.Subset of Industrial Design
Works on product aesthetics (look, feel) and manufacturing.Works on product detailed design.
Responsible for overall product function, aesthetics, UI, UX etc,.Involves Function specific teams ( mechanical / electrical, software engineers).
Ensures product design is meeting customer expectations and suitable for mass production.Ensures product is functioning according to specifications and applicable standards.
Involves activities in complete product lifecycle.Involves activities from concept design to final product development.

To sum up, Industrial design is a broader term and product design is done as per the input provided by industrial designers. Industrial designers work on product aesthetics and ensure product design is good for mass production. Whereas product designer ensures product functions as desired.

We will keep adding more details on industrial design vs product design. Please add your suggestions, comments or questions to industrial design vs product design. We suggest you also read this article on Lean Manufacturing.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *