Cleveland — Designer Michael Paloian said linear thinking — like engineers typically use to go from Point A to B, C and D — tends to narrow your perspective. He spoke to the Society of Plastics Engineers' Rotational Molding Conference.
He urged rotomolding executives looking for new product designs to shake things up, by “looking from the outside in, as opposed to the inside out.”
Paloian could not attend the conference, June 6-8 in Cleveland, so he gave his presentation remotely. His face was projected onto a screen, like a Wizard of Oz of plastic design. Paloian is president of Integrated Design Systems Inc. of Oyster Bay, N.Y.
He gave a glimpse into the thinking of product designers, to leaders of a rotomolding industry who crave growth in new markets beyond toys and tanks.
Paloian uses technology — he talked about CAD, simulation software and rotomolding issues like routing, assembly and molded-in bolts. But he strongly advocated a back-to-basics approach of personal interaction to build important levels of mutual trust between designers, engineers and brand owners. “That comes through verbal communication, not through a text message,” he said.
Text and email are OK for basic facts. “But your brain works a lot faster than typing on a keyboard,” Paloian said. “It's too laborious, and it's cumbersome and you need immediate response.”
Similarly, Paloian noted that CAD is widely used in design, but he added: “That's one small step in the overall scheme of things.” Designers also use clay models, even cardboard to tinker with design concepts early in the process.
CAD is universally used for bringing a concept to the end product, he said. Simulation helps verify structural properties.
Paloian said it's important for product designers to keep in close touch with rotomolders and mold makers.
“The guy at the end of the line, he's going to make the whole thing work, so he's a key player in the process,” he said.
Later in the design process, you define details that make the product more desirable to consumers, such as function and appearance, ergonomics and durability.
“Especially when you make structural parts, it's really critical to test and verify the product” to make sure it meets specifications, he said.
Paloian showed slides of several products and described the design of each one. One was delivery box for keeping pizza pies warm. The first designers used cardboard, which he joked looked like they made in 10 minutes. “This is what people often think when they design rotomolded parts,” he said, getting laughs from the conference attendees.
“With this level of a lack of design details, and not understanding what you're doing, this is the type of stuff you get. And I find it pretty humorous, to be honest,” he said.
Then Paloian showed a picture of beautiful rotomolded chairs. “These are works of art,” he said.