In hardware products, there are numerous problems to solve that are inextricably linked. One of the main problems is the development of the structure and its product design. Things should not be an end in themselves, because the external panels, structural parts and main control components suggest the overall principle of operation of the product. In these products, it is very important to build synchrony between hardware and software, because they manage and control the device or machine. For this purpose, all this must be logically positioned on the hardware product, in the form of control zones and specific control components – consoles, button controllers, displays, grips, motion sensors and more. In this case we are talking about careful development of information ergonomics, which must have a certain logic and arrangement of the various control zones and control components. All this should answer certain questions – how exactly this product works, how it is managed, what is its sequence of functions, etc. In general, hardware products are equipped with a wide range of components, mechanical details and structural parts. Some can be seen on the outer structure, and others are assembled in the internal structure – in the form of reinforcement parts and bearing structural parts. Mechanical details also have a key role in hardware products, because with their help build modern machines, which are widely used in various types of industries. Automation is present in such products and can often be spotted in combination with hardware equipment. This type of product needs to cover specific requirements and characteristics in view of their purpose – function, product usage, ergonomics, position of the components and equipment, assembling and disassembly, maintenance, etc.
Over the years I have participated in specific projects for hardware products – with design, development and consulting on my part. I had a key role in solving real problems, as well as in creating new opportunities for the development of relevant products. In the development process, I often had to mediate between the client, the team of specialists and subcontractors. I organized production processes, directly made the final products, finished individual parts and details. The projects were mainly related to the design and development of the main structure, external panels, control components, mechanical parts and structural parts for hardware equipment. I took into account the assembly and installation, the device and the electronics positioned in it, the presence of mechanical parts and automation in the product. At the same time I achieved optimal production cost for a number of products, parts and components. Products, components and parts that are otherwise manufactured with expensive tooling, requiring capacity, production volumes and large initial investments.
The stages of design and development passed with intensive discussion and consultations. The same happened in the stages covering the development of the experimental models and the main prototypes, before reaching the pre-production prototype and the final product. In each hardware product I tried to optimize the production technology as much as possible, as far as its characteristics, compromises with the structure of the product and the materials used for its manufacture allow. It was not intentional on my part to avoid higher-cost production technologies because other products did not allow such an approach. At the same time, I adapted new ways of assembling modules from parts, optimized the design of products with affordable production techniques, reduced the number of used details and parts in the final product, etc. The results were good. Optimal production costs were always achieved without affecting the quality of the final product. This process of optimization begins in the initial stages of design, continues intensively in the stage related to the test models, improves in the development of the main prototype and ends as a stage in the formation of the pre-production prototype. There are strictly defined requirements, standards and technologies that must be adapted to each hardware product, regardless of its purpose, functionality and operation. In hardware products, the process is extremely intensive with the selection of optimal manufacturing technologies and materials.
In the test models, prototypes, matrix molds and finished products, I have used a wide range of production technologies and materials: industrial design clay; composite materials molding of models, prototypes and matrix molds – glass fiber, resin and gel coat; 3D printed details – ABS plastic and polyamide (PA); aluminum alloys and engineering plastics with the aid of CNC milling technology; vacuum forming of plastic; laser cutting of metal.
Some of the many challenging hardware projects I have participated in as a designer, developer and consultant:
Electronic Device – https://solo-form.com/en/project/electronic-device/
Arcade Machine Game – https://solo-form.com/en/project/arcade-machine-game/
Digitization Machine – https://solo-form.com/en/project/digitization-machine/
Tablet for Blind People – https://solo-form.com/en/project/tablet-for-blind-people/