Digital Industrial Design (DiD) is an approach to product development in which industrial/product designers undertake all form-giving activities digitally (no pens/paper/foam or direct interaction with physical material).

The key areas of DiD innovation are during Concept Generation and Phase 4 of Design Development where less conventional methods have been proposed and appraised through action research that employed designs for an Internet telephone handset. To explore the capabilities of the various methods when designing contrasting product shapes, two stylistic directions were taken for the telephone: ‘geometric’ and ‘organic’.


Phase 1: Capture of Engineering Hard-points (3D scanning)

Stylistic direction (component of DIDA research methodology)

Geometric Organic

Phase 2(a): Digital Concept Sketching (interactive tablet)
Phase 2(b): Evolutionary Form Generation (CAD add-in)

Phase 3: Digital Sketch Modelling (haptic feedback device)

Phase 4: Tactile and Visual Evaluation of Sketch Models (monochrome 3D printing)

Phase 5: Rendered Concept Sketches for client presentation (interactive tablet)


Phase 6: Refinement of Form (3D CAD)

Phase 7: Virtual Prototyping (3D CAD)

Phase 8: Photorealistic Visualisation for client presentation (3D CAD)

Phase 9: Low Fidelity Appearance Model for client presentation (multi-coloured 3D printing)


Phase 10: Detail Design (3D CAD)

Phase 11: Pre-production Prototypes (additive manufacture)

Phase 12: Tooling Simulation (3D CAD)

DiD has been explored through collaboration between Dr Mark Evans and Dr Ian Graham (Loughborough University), Dr Eujin Pei (De Montfort University) and Professor David Cheshire (Staffordshire University). The DiD approach and outcomes from the action research case study are embodied in the DiD website that allows the designed outcomes to be viewed in detail by clicking the images.

The DiD case study demonstrates a theoretical approach to project management and the value in using design practice to support data collection during academic research.