Case Study Examples of The Design Department Work.

Case Study: The Design Department

In certain industries, the company design department is a key to keeping customers interested.  It is the new products coming out periodically that bring excitement to what is next.  Think about the Cell Phone industry as an example.  There is hype in the press in anticipation of each year's new product improvements, and each company works hard to make sure their new product delights customers.

Artistic Design Brought to Production.Industries like these thrive on repeat customers year after year, so innovation becomes a business strategy.  They must "publish or perish" (to borrow a phrase from scholastics).  And so it is for many industries.

One such very competitive industry is the automotive aftermarket.  There is always another gizmo or nifty thing to add to your car.  And, for License Plate Frame manufacturers, that is for sure.  Customers always want to see something new for bling and attractive decoration.

Coordinated Success

Synthesis has worked with license plate frames for more than 15 years doing all sorts of artistic expression.  Our customer prides themselves on being the industry best through continual focus on customer wants and attention to detail.  That philosophy aligns well with our thoughts, too.

Collaborating on many projects over the years is a wonderful case study in leveraging talents for success.  Having Synthesis as an extension of their design department has allowed Cruiser periodic access to talent beyond their in-house skills, and working together has given us insight and experience we otherwise could not have acquired.

Combining Art, Science & Style

Artistic Expression in 3D CADOn the surface, frames may seem simple or easy, but there is so much more than meets the eye.  True, it is an artistic expression, and some of the frames are simplistic - just a band of chrome around the license plate.  Yet, proportions and effects are important.  And, there are always concerns about aesthetic appeal, legality, manufacturability, cost, packaging, patents, product line overlap, competitor cross-over and so much more.

In more complex frames, there are the added concerns of how to make (manufacture) the parts easily, distorting features for an optical illusion that appear more complicated than manufacturing can actually make.  This is certainly an area where skills in complex CAD are essential.

Handling all these details is the job of the design department.  And, assisting in that has been one of the roles for Synthesis from way back. It uses our skills and challenges our minds, both of which are awesome.

When we succeed in bringing art and science together with style, we call it "the elegant solution".  It is not quantifiable, and it takes creativity, but when you hit that target, you know it.  Interestingly, we find it a great compliment when the boss says "That is so simple, why did we need you?"  We take that as a compliment, because we know the hoops we jumped through in order to get it there.  It always makes us smile.

Morphed Skulls Design Example

Feeding the Design Department

Our job often starts with a sketch from an artist - often something that is impossible to make.  Also, most often the original artwork violates the rules for manufacturing, and of space and legality.  To meet requirements of the artist and the markets, the design department must know where the boundaries are.

Legality is an interesting topic for license plates.  To be legal, there are certain areas you must to stay away from - certain things you can't cover.  To learn all the details for every situation, Cruiser collected license plates from every jurisdiction in North America.  No kidding, we have a license plate from every state in the US as well as from Canada and Mexico.  Often several as states have changed their license plates over the years. Then we went through every one to document where tags and state names and other details are.  Finally, we put all this work into a graphic so when we design a frame, we know what it is going to look like and how it will fit in every case.

Chain Frame Case Study Design ExampleDoes that seem crazy?  Maybe. Yet, our customer has a passion for being the best, and it is always important to know your business.  Their bulk customers like AutoZone know that we know what we are doing - even if the competition does not.

Art To Science

As mentioned, an artist rendering is often the starting point.  Our job is to shape what they draw into something that meets the practical requirements (legality, manufacturability, cost, etc.).  Oh, and we must preserve the look the artist intended with their sketches.

Sometimes, for the design department that is a really tall order.  Sure, there are many compromises, but the work is more than that.  It is about finding ways to manifest art, and capture the essence within the analytical sphere.

Art is in the eye of the beholder, for sure.  Sometimes it is difficult to please an artist when we first have to mutate their art.  Interestingly, we have done this kind of work for many customers - from bicycle forks from Rock Shox to Cell Phones to various toy manufacturers.

However, when we finish, it is purely analytical - meaning it is something that a manufacturer can produce, cost effectively.  We take it from sketches and 2D images into 3D CAD, then to prototypes and technical docs for production.  In essence, we take the nebulous and give it a mathematical description.  Our work with the design department is moving Art to Science - while preserving the essence of the art.

Creative Solutions

Often, it is the almost over simplistic, yet creative thinking that bring artistic concepts to reality.  The above chain and spinner concept from a long time ago is an example - because you can flip the frame over so the dangling spinner is below the plate for cases and places where it is not legal to dangle as shown.

Example of a Patent for our Case StudyAnother example is the the "Skulls Frame" above.  The three center skulls are actually a removable emblem that can be placed on the frame upside down.  This means you can flip the frame over with this piece on the now "bottom" to avoid covering a state name on the license plate.  Yes, that is a simple solution, and yes it may seem so obvious.  And yet, it had not been done before - which is exactly the elegance in the solution.

We believe the best solutions come from multiple sources, and that certainly proves itself over and over as we collaborate and innovate together.  This is true in so many areas of engineering, not just in the design department.  These are the things that bring out the best in design efforts for success.

Success In The Design Department

Company success is a chain of successful activity.  Starting with the right artistic selections, then the activity and success of the design department.  If we do our job well, the sales department has a much greater chance of success.  Add in success in other areas like manufacturing, logistics and human resources, and that makes the perfect recipe.

Beyond the "design", our contribution extends into the assets for our customer - in the areas of Intellectual property.  Patents to protect the work are common, and you will find Eldon on many license plate related patents - both utility and design patents.  It is not a solo act, however, because the best ideas have influence from multiple sources.  In this relationship, Synthesis is but one of the creative inputs.  That said, we believe our influence is a catalyst in this area of success.  It is one of the added benefits in working with us.

The design department is just one of the links in the chain, but important, nonetheless.  At Synthesis we understand the impact our work can have, and we also understand the risks a company takes in choosing to work with us.  The importance of our activity is not lost in timesheets, and we bring our best work to every project - to work together with customers for a united success.  That is just who we are.

Now, it is your turn.  Contact us for assistance in your design department.  Bring in new business solutions through engineering design, and we are here to help.

Case Study Examples of The Design Department Work.


Synthesis Engineering Case Studies:

The Synthesis Series of Case Studies in our articles highlight some of the work we do with examples, images and detail.  Our work is broad, and acting with a company Design Department is just one of the many roles we play.  See the additional case studies for more examples.  Please visit our Engineering Services pages for even more information on the services we provide.  Thank you for visiting.

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