Technically Complex Product

Eugéne
8 min readJan 22, 2022

Hello, I’m Abhishek, a 7th semester Industrial Design student from the National Institute of Design, Andhra Pradesh. In this blog, I’ll be sharing my process from my project for the Technically complex product (TCP). This project is a 7-week module under the guidance of Mr.Vivek Amberkar.

PROJECT GOAL: This project is intended to understand and solve a problem in a product keeping in mind its assembly and technical details. This was done to sensitize one to ultimately design for assembly and manufacture.

The module was divided into 3 phases to structure the design process and to ease assessment of the things required to move ahead to the next step of the design process.

Phase 1:

It all began with product selection. The product I chose was a popcorn maker. But there were a few different types of popcorn makers so I had to pick and chose one based on product appreciation points, problems to be solved and ease of access to it since having the product around would be indeed helpful in understanding the intricate details of the product.

Comparison of different popcorn poppers

Out of the few types that were available in the market, I picked the Hot air popcorn popper, since I found plausible reasons for redesigning the product.

After looking at the problems revolving around the product, it was time to create an initial brief for research and a more concrete problem-solving area for the product.

Initial Brief…To design a popcorn maker which can be easily used to make flavourful popcorn and be stored easily.

The research goals followed the brief:

  • User and context validation and study
  • Use case environment study
  • Product study and study of functional aspects of individual parts

After acquiring the product and looking at the use cases of the product around different environments I realized that this product can work well under the following users:

  • Families that have movie nights or semi-frequently eat popcorn
  • People who need a healthy snack to binge on
  • Children who have started to make snacks or foods on their own

After fixing the use case I then moved to understand the process of making popcorn and getting in touch with different possible users to understand user-based problem areas.

Task analysis

After this I went ahead to dismantle the popcorn maker I acquired for this product to understand the assembly process, materials of the individual parts, and also the part and assembly restrains.

wiring of the popcorn popper

From the above research and user data, I listed down plausible key problems and made possible user goals and objectives:

  • The made popcorn gets tossed out far sometimes, hence dirties the space
  • The heat is directed towards the user due to the placement of the product makes the user uncomfortable and might cause small burns
  • The machine needs to be stored safely after each use
  • No Flavouring after popping

Now after getting all the essential data I went ahead to redefine my initial brief for the project.

Phase 2:

In this phase, most of the ideation was done for the redesign. We followed the 6,3,5 method for structured ideation for easing the process for a project of such a short time span.

To know more about the 6,3,5 method follow this link for the Design thinking method catalogs website…

This method allowed us to cycle through many ideas in a short period of time to give rise to more substantial ideas.

I made mood boards to further get product benchmarking, inspiration , decor as well as colour board for my concepts:

Product benchmarking Board
inspiration board (Retro and Minimal)
Decor board for the environment for my product
colour board (mix of the energy of red and joy of yellow)

After the mood boards i head into ideation from the initial ideas from the 6,3,5 idea generation method

Phase 3:

These messy sketches eventually lead to three concepts, which were 3d modelled to understand the surfaces and for further ideations.

Concept 1:

This concept has two parts the cooking chamber on the left and the transparent collection chamber. It caters to the problems of the popcorn flying off, heat being thrown at the user, and storage issues as it'll be kept as a show item.

Concept 2:

this concept is all about the senses, the smaller chamber on the left is the cooking chamber which allows you to see the popcorn pop as it spins in the hot air vortex inside which then moves across the cooking chamber through the transfer channel on the top. It caters to the problems of the popcorn flying off, heat being thrown at the user, and storage issues as it’ll be kept as a show item.

Concept 3:

This concept was more of a an attempt to do something experimental, so her I play with the orientation of the product. It can rotate about its hinge by a max of 90 degrees and the stand can topple by 90 degrees aswell to make the product go upside down to dispense the popcorn in its lid/collection chamber.

Out of the three concepts with the help of my guide, I picked concept 1 to work further on because concept 2 may get confused with a coffee maker due to its form and concept 3 would be out of the mental model of the users and overall concept 1 was a more stronger concept which could make its way to manufacturing.

Here I show how the form factor of concept 1 change to reach its final stage.

stage 1 concept
stage 2 concept
final product
Overall dimension drawing of the product

Now I present to you my popcorn maker:

This product was made keeping in mind that it’ll be used as a lifestyle product by young adults and adults and will be kept in living room like spaces due to which my primary source of inspiration were Braun products during the time of Dieter Rams.

The 3D model of my product is designed for assembly as well as for manufacture.

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