Top Tips: Getting Your Design Off the Ground

Five tips on how businesses can harness the latest advances in design technology to turn their ideas into reality

[image_library_tag d39c97dc-b44b-408f-8992-0d5eeebc9d8e 135x165 alt="pete-baxter-autodesk" title="pete-baxter-autodesk" width="135" height="165"class="left "]Pete Baxter is Vice President and Head of Autodesk UK, a world leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software and services. An architect by profession, Baxter has inside knowledge of the design software sector having previously worked for Bentley Systems (as international channel director); Parametric Technology Corporation; and Revit, prior to its acquisition by Autodesk.

Pete shares his top tips on how businesses can harness the latest advances in design technology to turn their ideas into reality.


One major trend fuelling the new industrial revolution is the democratisation of design and the tools that enable design, making it easier than ever for anyone to turn their ideas into reality. Thanks to the advent of simple and affordable 3D design software, access to digital fabrication services and desktop 3D printers, we are seeing the rise of a global community of makers, where the home office is becoming the home factory. Below are some of our top tips for using the latest design technology to get your designs off the ground.



1.                   Get an app-spiration


Ideas can come from the simplest of things.  Imagine you’re suddenly hit with a “light bulb” idea or inspiration from something in the natural world or a piece of beautiful architecture. Most of us now carry smartphones or tablets and there are a range of free apps available that you can use to quickly capture the moment or quickly sketch an idea with an array of design tools. Then share your thoughts via social media or upload them through the cloud to your desktop and delve into the design further.



2.                   Choose the right software


Access to the right software and design tools is key. But if you have a small team sometimes it doesn’t make sense to buy the software outright. As a small business you should consider taking advantage of vendors who offer subscription options so that you’re only paying for what you need at any given time. It also means you have access to the latest releases without having to buy a new software licence every year. Selecting software that uses the cloud can also be incredibly useful. The cloud allows for improved collaboration with colleagues and partners from anywhere in the world and gives access to unlimited computing power, allowing businesses of any size to quickly create hi-resolution renders or run complex simulations.



3.                  Test and simulate


In essence, this step saves time and money, which is obviously key for many businesses but especially those just starting out. Creating digital prototypes using simulation tools can help firms understand the implication of their design choices and refine them before creating a physical prototype. Ultimately, generating a digital prototype will help create optimised designs, reduce the likelihood of errors and keep down costs. Many of these tools are now also available as cloud-hosted services meaning you can test and simulate designs anywhere at any point in the design process



4.                  3D print a prototype


Designing and manufacturing a product is expensive and can be a risky process. Growing businesses can’t afford to get it wrong. The majority of 3D design software now has options to link to 3D printing devices allowing rapid physical prototyping at all stages of design development. Small 3D printers are now at an affordable price point making ownership a viable option for even smaller practices. Alternatively, cloud based services provide the option for the production of physical prototypes.



5.                   Be passionate


Yes, this is a bit of a cliché, but without passion, design ideas will remain purely aspirational. Businesses need to remember that designing can be a slow process and there will be many tweaks and bumps along the way that need passion as the constant driving force. But the tools available can ensure you stay in control as a designer and that the finished product meets and exceeds the brief in terms of aesthetic, quality and performance.


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