GENESIS OF A HEADPHONE (PART 2)

A strong industrial design (ID) concept is the foundation of any product. But, the gulf between beautiful ID and a well-executed, functional, finished creation is huge. Pie in the sky designs with little regard for manufacturability yield only frustration as little by little the practicalities of production strip away the original design intent. Further, the most precarious resource for almost any start-up is time; without careful attention to the manufacturability consequences of every tweak and refinement to Crown, we risked wasting much of it scrambling to implement revisions later on. For these reasons, our design and engineering people were in collaboration from day one. Our objective was to create a set of detailed instructions so that our factory could understand exactly our requirements for Crown.

In the first phase of development, as we kicked around variations of our hero design concept, we were mostly looking at computer-aided design (CAD) renderings, specifically in STEP (Standard for The Exchange of Product model data). STEP is a global standard for representing 3D objects in CAD. At this stage the goal was to dial-in a refined vision of the product and engineering input helped to keep development within the bounds of manufacturability. Their inclusion in these discussions also gave us a jump on thinking about parts and mechanics. It’s one thing to draw up an idea for a product; it’s quite another to specify how that product breaks up into component parts, how those parts are made and how they can be effectively assembled in an efficient production setting.

With STEP in hand, engineering turned first to generating a map of parts and how they fit together (think Lego instructions) and then to creating dimensions, material requirements and mechanical functions, which we deliver in a software called Pro/Engineering. The Pro/E package of files is especially important because that’s the set of designs and instructions we send over to the factory to design the next important phase in the development lifecycle: tooling.

Note: The design and engineering of the ear cups is vital to achieving acoustic performance. I’ll cover that process in a separate post on acoustics.

Imran