Chapter 1/4: The Basics of product design

It's clear that product design is a very important part of our phylosophy at ROMBO as a small Start-up. Did you ever wonder how the everyday objects in your house get made? Someone has to design them. Every object you touched today was designed by someone that - hopefully - put a lot of effort into combining function and form  to create something beautiful. 

This series of chapters will give you insight into how a guitar pick is designed and manufactured: From the idea, to the final product in your Hands.

I work as a product developer. In my case, it includes more engineering than design but I have always been interested in sketching, creating and trying new things. I spend a lot of time of my life doing research related to new materials, to new forms of expression using shapes and shadows (surface design) of to technologies available for doing such things.

There is no "right" way to design a product properly. There is a good way and a better way (there is always a better way, no matter how hard you try something). If you do it so, you reach the sweet spot.

The art of combining these three areas is our aim. "Form follows function" does not imply that external design in subordinate to the functional aspects of the product. Rather, it says that external design is a logical consequence of function, and that the two concepts are inseparable. "Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works", said Steve Jobs.

In the next chapter we will explain the process of creating our pick ROMBO Waves. I hope you'll enjoy it!

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Chapter 2/4: Define & Sketch

In this chapter we will explore the design process of the guitar pick Rombo Waves. The whole process took us a while, since we evaluated every area carefully: Function, design/style and emotional attitude

After we designed some of the other picks, we were looking for something different, kind of an alternative, curious pick for special uses. The keywords that should define this pick were: Soft release, warm tones, strumming and robust guitar plectrum.

It is very important to define these keywords at the beginning; it helps you to know exactly what you want. It also will be a good starting point to define your Product Mood Board.

The moodboard will expand your global perspective and will inspire you in many ways.

Here is my personal moodboard to this product. To create it, I used a lot of Google images and some platforms like Lemanoosh (my favourite one) or Pinterest that helped me filter the results more precisely and stay up-to-date with the new trends. The moodboard should create an atmosphere around your product, and your product should fit on it naturally.

I used pictures of beautiful beaches (because of the keyword "warm tones" - which made me think about songs like Catch the Wave from the Beach Boys), pictures of surfing, of guitars and ukuleles and some other design items I liked: This way I combined my keywords with the emotional attitude and the style I was looking for.

There is something that always happens to me: After I finish my product design moodboard I can't wait to start with the sketches!!

This kind of drawing is called an "
industrial design sketch" and it is very often used in the first phases of the product design process. Back then when I researched the basics, my favourite page was "sketch a day". Spencer Nugent is a very engaged product designer who shares a lot of know-how and tips online! The most important thing about industrial design sketches is that you do not have to be an expert, after you learn the basics your sketches will be awesome!

In the next chapter we will be doing some 3D Modeling and printing our first prototypes!

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Chapter 3/4: 3D Modelling,  renders and prototypes

So far in the parts 1 and 2, we defined our concept and created the style and design line of our plectrum Rombo Waves. We are ready to start thinking about 3D Modelling! 

Why 3D Modelling? Well, to manufacture objects with complex surfaces, you need this data. Besides, the 3D data will help you create renderings (photorealistic pictures). Renderings are cool: With these pictures you get a very precise and good-looking image of your product.

Although the sketches and the design are finished, I like to think that only 80% of the final form is defined when you start modelling. With the 20% left I create some final details. Sometimes during the modeling process you discover bugs or confront some technical difficulties. Because of this, your design may suffer some changes. It could also happen, that you have new ideas during this process and you decide to change some areas: just because it looks better.  

The 3 key rules to avoid Frustration:

- Keep your mind open to changes - your first sketch won't be the final design, accept it.

- Find a good compromise between technical and artistic areas.

- Remember it's all about fun - Keep it this way.

Our next steps will be the following:

If you are a beginner, I recommend you look for some open source software like FreeCAD, Google SkechUP or Blender to start modeling some basic geometries. These software choices include all the basic functions you need at the beginning and they are very intuitive to learn. There are tons of people doing awesome thins out there and there are lots of tutorials to learn all about These tools. Think of it like sculpting, it takes many hours to learn it!

After I complete the renders, I like to add some text to describe my product.

Let's talk about the prototypes! Now that your 3D model is ready, you want to have your product in your hands and check to see if everything is as you expected. I have the following problem and you probably too: I don't have a 3D Printer (not yet!), my parts are usually to small to be modeled in Wood or foam and I want my prototypes to have similar mechanical properties as the real product. Therefore, I use external companies to build my prototypes.

This is very practical and not as expensive as it sounds! My favourite rapid prototyping process is SLS. With this process you get a very good balance between price, mechanical properties and dimensional accuracy.

I usually do 4 or 5 prototyping rounds until I get the results I want, but it depends on the complexity of the parts. This means a lot of time, since every prototype round takes 5-10 days and changing the 3D Data can also take some extra Hours. This is one reason why the developing process of a product takes so long.

Basically I follow this process:

Wouldn't it be nice to have an idea, translate that thought into the paper, model the 3D Version of it, and finally have something in your Hands that you've created? Yes, it is so much fun!

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