RE: Mass Customization

From: B. J. Arnold-Feret (
Date: Wed Jan 02 2002 - 18:57:05 EET

Interesting, in that what you described in what usually is done via the
marketing influence into the manufacturing side. However, one note: in the
very short-term return on investment, have to have a low head count, type of
manufacturing mind-set currently in place in most OEMs, marketing is one of
the most neglected arts and the LEAST desirable positions in the
organization. When there is a downturn, marketing is the first to be

Also, on the aspect of the color change on PCs that are now one of the
customization features; Going from one grade or type of plastic resin to
another will affect the shrink and the tooling. Even doing a color change
in the same resin and tool will affect the manufacturing. (Recycling scrap
blue will not mix with scrap red, etc. Clean out from one resin color to
another adds cost and time. Do you go with premixed versus add-color? Do
you match parts manufactured elsewhere? There are a whole bunch of
variables that get added in when you do color.)

B. J. Arnold-Feret

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On
> Behalf Of Nick Osborn
> Sent: Wednesday, January 02, 2002 5:49 AM
> To:
> Cc:
> Subject: Re: Mass Customization
> Steve
> Interesting questions - for my part (as a qualified industrial
> designer having just survived the annual orgy of consumerism that
> is called "Christmas") the answers are as follows:
> 1. As the saying goes, "There's no accounting for (individual)
> taste" - chances are, if someone has designed a product
> themselves and they are happy with it, then that's it - happy
> customer / user / designer / consumer / whatever. (There should
> be a word for a designer who is also the end user...but that's
> another thread..)
> 2. Remember when you first starting using simple graphics
> packages on a PC and playing around with different colours? It's
> amazing how different the same (moulded / fabricated / "mass"
> produced) product can look in different colour combinations. For
> me, this says no extra tooling needed, just a clever way of
> ordering different coloured raw materials (e.g. masterbatch for
> injection moulding of plastic parts, for instance) and moulding
> parts to order. We do this all the time for designers who want
> to "try a few different colours in the real material to see how it looks".
> 3. Teenagers will help drive the early adoption of mass
> customisation systems. As the most tech-savvy and
> change-friendly group of consumers on the planet, in exchange for
> programming your VCR they will demand 30 minutes of premium rate
> web access time to design themselves a new snap-on phone cover
> (complete with textures, etc.) for that big party next weekend....
> 4. The growth of good, reliable agents to do the looking /
> advising / selecting for you gives the illusion of control whilst
> all the tricky bits are taken care of in the nuts and bolts dept.
> of whatever software it is you're using to make your choices.
> When it comes to freeform sculpting of new complex shapes, that's
> into new and uncharted territory for a lot of people (think of a
> beginners pottery class, for example).
> 5. Like any system, there should be an entry level (say where
> people are guided through colour choices / combinations only) and
> more advanced levels (say where you can choose which components
> to include/ swap out / remove) and finally expert level (e.g.
> design your own gym shoes from scratch).
> Finally, any mass cust. system must be FUN, EASY to use and
> RELIABLE if it going to succeed - you're asking people to spend
> their own time doing something that up until now has been done by
> someone else. (OK, so there's self-interest involved too, but
> only to a point). With regard to your "forum of engineers"
> question, whilst I know there are plenty of "non-engineers" who
> subscribe, I still believe the answer is YES.
> Best regards
> Nick
> Nick Osborn
> Managing Director
> Swift Technologies Limited
> Tel: +44 (0) 1354 650 789
> "Real Parts Real Quick - Because Time is Money"
> >>> "Steven Pollack" <> 02/01/02 10:02:09 >>>
> Dear List,
> I recently had the interesting experience of purchasing a new pair of gym
> shoes. I dutifully went to the wall of left shoes at the mall
> store and was
> amazed by the proliferation of shoe designs and materials. I
> have no doubt
> Rapid Prototyping technology advances have fueled this bonanza of choice.
> In fact I started feeling like an old man (of 36) thinking how in
> the world
> am I supposed to choose from among all these crazy styles and wistfully
> conjuring up simpler times when shoe designs offered less choices.
> Now this is not mass customization but I am aware that there are
> sites that
> allow for enough choice control to be given such a title. My question is
> this: Does the general public have the desire to make these kinds
> of choices
> or enough design skill to feel comfortable in making these kinds
> of choices?
> The current mass production driven system of manufacturing makes this
> question irrelevent because the product engineer and product designer
> pre-digest the available options and present the marketplace with well
> thought out designs. But as we are all seeing CAD/CAM is
> lowering the cost
> threshold for providing one off designs. Automated manufacturing systems
> will undoubtedly crop up where the user becomes the designer, turning the
> designer/manufacturer/consumer relationship around.
> Digital Jeweler, our server side CAD software walks the line in between
> these alternatives by offering customization of a pre-engineered
> core design
> through the use of knowledge engineering. My question as far as I am
> concerned is if the consumer would desire to go the next step further in
> having "complete" design control within a system that either guides for
> proper manufacturing parameters or mandates it. Is the general population
> incapable of this level of design choice meaning it would be a
> niche product
> for those brave enough to try it or is the current state of
> consumerism(choosing between alternatives) just a temporary natural
> consequence of the marketplace created by the industrial
> revolution and mass
> production?
> Would your answer change if there were design helpers in the program such
> that while the user could be allowed to design something outside
> the bounds
> of good design or manufacturing, pop-up helpers would alert the user and
> give them alternatives to their current choices? What if the helpers were
> also design driven?
> Or do you believe the user would need to be corralled inside a system that
> only produces "good results" as pre-determined by those
> knowledgeable about
> product design?
> Finally, is the analysis of this issue fatally skewed by this
> being a forum
> of engineers? d:^D
> Steven Pollack
> President, Digital Jeweler
> 660 Vernon Ave
> Glencoe, IL 60022
> www.DigitalJeweler.NET
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