Research is a funny thing. You can painstakingly design a survey, hoping to prove or disprove specific hypotheses. You can vette it with practitioners, making your best effort to make sure the questions and answers reflect reality. You can plan and execute its promotion, gathering responses from the right range of respondents to ensure validity
We all likely can agree that design specifications are vital and should be appropriately tracked and managed. And by now most everyone knows that design simulation and analysis—with its virtual prototyping capabilities–cuts product development costs considerably.
So what about material specifications? Though they’re just as needed as their design counterparts, materials lifecycle management hasn’t been as highly regarded. That’s starting to change, though, as companies realize the importance of material selection.
As flexible electronics show, the materials of which products are made, rather than the products themselves, are likely to drive next-generation product innovation. In fact, says Yan Wang, a member of Georgia Tech’s Multiscale Systems Engineering Research Group, the time has come for designers to customize the material to the piece they’re designing. He’s working on that. Also, 3D printing could allow for that same type of up-close materials specification capability.