Product design is an exciting career with many different paths you can take. No matter what kind of product design you do, you’ll be taking part in an engaging and fast-paced career that will keep you on your toes.
If you’re interested in product design, however, you’ll need to learn how to use the software that goes along with the job. Some of these programs have a pretty steep learning curve, but here are 10 that are easy to learn that will give you the start you need.
If you’re new to 3D modeling, opening up a top-rated 3D modeling program such as ZBrush can be a bit of a shock. There is so much to learn – you may spend more of your time navigating the software than actually learning it. 3D modeling software is a must for a quality product designer, and TinkerCad is the perfect program to start with.
TinkerCad was developed by Autodesk and is considered the best tool for learning the process of CAD modeling. It is so effective that it’s the number one choice for classrooms that teach CAD design. If you’re new to product design and want to dip your hands into 3D modeling, TinkerCad is the ideal program to start with.
TinkerCad is so simple that even kids can use it, so you don’t have to be worried about a steep learning curve, and you can use it for both 3D modeling and 3D printing. This is wonderful for product design, which often requires a 3D model, or 3D printing to create a sample product.
Learn Design Sketching
Before you even start with software, most of our designs must begin with pencil and paper. This necessary step allows us to create the lines we are looking for in the easiest, most straightforward, and cheapest manner.
Unfortunately, not all of us are born artists, and sketching has to be done a certain way for design in order for it to be useful. This app takes you through learning design sketching, so you can put your ideas onto paper.
Design sketching is a must for designing houses, large construction projects, and to sketch out an idea for a product before taking the time to 3D model it. Since sketching is cheap, efficient, and relatively quick, it is a sensible option to have on hand when developing something new. Even if you’re not a natural artist, this app can help you learn the skills you need to handle basic sketches.
If you’re new to product design, Behance is an essential product for you to become familiar with. Behance isn’t actually a proper program – it’s a networking app that allows you to meet other product designers and learn from them. Getting advice from someone who has been there, done that is one of the best ways to learn more about the trade. If you plan to get into product design, Behance is something you need to be a part of.
Behance also gives you a chance to look at the portfolios of other product designers. Just like photographers can get ideas by looking at what other professionals do, and novelists read to learn from other writers, you can pick up new ideas by looking at what others do.
Networking is essential for one other reason – if you can make a good impression and befriend others in the same business, they may be able to help you find work.
Materials & Processes
There is a lot to learn when becoming a product designer. Not only do you have to learn how to use new software to build your ideas, and how to sketch things accurately, you also need to know what materials and processes are available.
As you learn more about available materials, you’ll be able to create more products and make the products that you do design better. With a thorough knowledge of materials, you can figure out how to make car parts lighter, quality products cheaper, and what material works best for which product.
Learning about available processes is also essential. By seeing what is available and how the different methods work, you’ll have more weapons up your sleeve when trying to tackle a new project. Knowledge is power and learning about these things may help you grow as a product designer.
Materials & Processes is an app that helps you learn about these things. If you are new to product design, it is an excellent piece of software to add to your collection.
There’s a lot to consider when designing a new product. Even if you come up with a fantastic invention everyone will love, it won’t be made if the product isn’t affordable. If your coffee mug costs $800, the only people who might be interested are the very rich, and there better be an excellent reason for it costing that much.
Even if the coffee mug self-heats and keeps coffee warm forever, even the rich will usually just go back to the coffee pot for another cup. A product has to be worth its price tag to the customer and justifying that can be hard to do. If you can’t charge $800 for a coffee cup, you need to find ways to bring the cost of the product down rather than waste materials on a product no one will buy.
Invention Calculator can help you gauge how much it will cost to produce a product, both initially and once the product is in full production. It can help give new product designers who may not have a solid idea of what costs look like a basic understanding of whether the product being created is financially feasible, or whether it is time to go back to the drawing board.
Pro ENGINEER Wildfire 3
This design program uses both CAD and CAM logic, like most product design programs. It has been steadily improving in function since the program was created in 2001. It currently has over 300 improvements made to it, a number that steadily increases with every update.
Pro ENGINEER Wildfire 3 features a simple, easy to use interface that allows you to do everything from 2D sketches to get you started to 3D modeling. You can go back and review all of your notes on a product, and it even has a sheet metal function for realistic product design.
The entire design of the program is geared toward making product design more accessible for the creator. It is designed top to bottom to be comfortable and convenient, but it also has advanced features to use once you have gotten more confident in the program.
Look forward to direct modeling, which allows you to make changes by selecting actions and applying them rather than using the dashboard. Most people choose to use this function after they learn it due to the speed with which changes can be made.
Working together is a part of product design. Seldom will you work on your own. If you’re a new designer, learning to work with others can be a struggle. You start out working on a concept for a part, only to find out someone else has already done that piece.
You aren’t sure how to handle the next part of the process and end up wasting valuable time trying to track down one of your teammates and have them show you what is next. In these cases, collaboration can be hard for a new designer to handle.
GrabCAD Workbench is a great way to solve the issues caused by collaboration. GrabCAD utilizes the power of the cloud to help you avoid duplicating parts of the process and keeps the project updated.
If you run into trouble on the project, GrabCAD Workbench allows you to get advice from the other people on your team. You’ll be able to complete projects faster and with confidence knowing that you’re doing it right.
As with all the other programs listed on this page, it’s also easy to use. The interface is simple, and it takes just a little bit of learning to figure out how to use all the features on GrabCAD Workbench. If you’re new to product design and are looking for a natural collaboration software, this is the one to try.
For some product designers, creating your new invention requires going places where you might not have access to the computer. After all, if the product is a new state-of-the-art building, you won’t be able to drag your desk out to the field in order to take notes.
AutoCAD mobile (previously known as AutoCAD 360) allows you to take your CAD program out into the field on your phone, iPad, or another small portable device. AutoCAD Mobile lets you create, draw, edit, and share AutoCAD drawings. It’s the perfect tool to make sketching out your ideas mobile and straightforward.
AutoCAD mobile is also easy to use, even if you’re not familiar with AutoCAD yet. It features an intuitive interface that can even allow members of the team who are entirely unfamiliar with product design to follow along with what you’re doing.
You’ll never have to take blueprints along with you to a site again either, as AutoCAD Mobile will keep your blueprints updated with the most current information.
The app is simple to use, and it is available both online and off. Enjoy the freedom of mobility that AutoCAD design services have been using for years.
A big part of product design is necessarily having your concept reviewed, marked up for change, and sent back with comments for the final finish. No matter how great an initial product design is, changes are almost always part of the process.
eDrawings is the perfect software for handling this phase of the design process. It allows you to send your drawings to anyone through email. If they have the viewer installed, they will be able to pull it up and look at it. A special feature on the program allows you to send the viewer along with the drawing through email, so anyone with a Windows OS can view it.
eDrawings Professional also allows markups to be done on the drawing, and measurements can be taken using the software. If the information on the product design is sensitive, this feature can also be disabled with the click of a button.
eDrawings is simple enough to use that even those without professional experience can operate it to view the files, and new CAD users will have no trouble understanding the professional side of things.
Some types of product design require you to be a little more artistic than others. For this type of product, MODO is a great place to start. In the program, you can do texturing, sculpting, 3D modeling design, rendering, and more.
It has an intuitive interface that is easy to understand, and the entire product was designed to avoid setting limits that make it difficult to express yourself. Special features of the product include things like a replicator to make a quick concept piece easier to finish and texture bombing to speed up the process.
MODO also has short videos to help you understand how the software works, and how it is different from similar programs. It does help if you have had experience with similar programs before, but it’s not necessary. The tutorials can help get you up to speed and using MODO like a pro in no time.
These 10 products are all great options for the product designer looking for something easy to learn. Not only will you not have to spend hours struggling to learn a new product, but products designed to be simple to use are just more intuitive.
Whether you’re looking for a new CAD program to make building 3D models easier, or a way to converse with your team about products, these tools will help you get there.