Product development

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Under Product Development (PE) the totality of the activities is to solve the technical understood tasks that a marketable lead product. The two classic terms and activities of development ( research & development: pre-development ) and construction have been combined in product development . Product development begins with the initial idea and extends to the market launch of the product (the technical solution).

The concept of product development was created with the increased use of a systematic and methodical way of working, which significantly complements the previously prevailing intuitive approach to technical solutions and makes the development of marketable products easier to plan and check.


The following process corresponds to the product development methodology according to Pahl / Beitz . It is usually iterative, which means that earlier work is resumed in a later phase and the previous results are corrected.

Planning phase (clarify task)

The aim of the work is to create the specifications (list of requirements).

Development on your own behalf (e.g. at an automobile manufacturer): In an intensive market analysis, for example, a development task is formulated with the help of the following questions:

  • "What does the customer want?"
  • "What does the competition offer?"
  • "Where do we get new product ideas?"
  • "Who is our target group?"
  • "Where in the product life cycle is our previous product?"
  • "What are the benefits?"

When developing complex products that are to be manufactured in medium lot sizes, the target cost construction is helpful, in which the price of a product is first set before development begins.

Requirement specification created by the customer : The customer draws up a so-called requirement specification, in which the requirements for the new product are described.

Once the specifications have been drawn up, the development departments examine the technical possibilities for realizing the product on a functional level; the specification for development is created. In the event of divergences between the requirement specification and the functional specification, a comparison must take place before the actual product development begins with the placing of the order.

Concept phase

The solution to the task has to be determined in principle, a concept has to be developed.

In principle, a large number of solutions are possible. In order to recognize them in addition to previously known solutions, it is advantageous to find the essence of the task through an abstract representation of the product function. For example, the task should not be to develop a dishwasher, but a dishwasher.

The product function is broken down into sub-functions (in addition to cleaning, the dishes have to be supplied and stored, among other things), which also has the advantage that groups working in parallel can already be used on large projects in this phase.

For each partial function, there are different solution principles in the form of predominantly physical effects (the dishes can be cleaned by cleaning, shaking, washing or otherwise). By linking the principles found for each sub-function, a large number of possible solutions for the overall function arise. They are abstract, their characteristic is their effective structure , which can be shown in block diagrams. Impossible variants are quickly identified. The remaining large number must be reduced to one (or a few) solution principles by means of an evaluation before a (or a few) design can be made.

The systematic and methodical evaluation is one of the essential features of modern product development. Examples are the utility value analysis and the method contained in the VDI 2225 guideline, which goes back to Fritz Kesselring . The morphological box can be used both when finding several solution principles and when evaluating.

Function carriers are added to the selected solution principle. The design phase begins with the resulting Real concept .

Design phase

The solution available as a concept is to be determined in terms of design. This is done by engineers, technicians or product designers.

First, the function carriers (building blocks) are roughly assembled. After they have been dimensioned quantitatively ( e.g. strength calculation ), aesthetically, ergonomically , safety-related and suitable for production , a true-to-scale detailed design is created .

This is used to produce simple, true-to-scale models for evaluating the external appearance and functional models. The latter serve to prove the function. They are absolutely necessary if the sub-functions contained cannot be predicted with sufficient certainty, even according to the latest engineering sciences .

Elaboration phase

The design is so elaborate that the product in series can be produced.

Elaboration is the classic activity of construction , whereby the construction documents are created.

If the individual part drawings are available, prototypes are already made and tested in order to eliminate drawing errors or older errors in principle. Assembly drawings are only created afterwards. A so-called pilot series is used to check whether all aids, such as special tools and devices , are suitable for series production. For economic reasons (avoidance of rejects ) the production in large series is preceded by a small initial series in order to guarantee trouble-free production.


As a rule, the market launch of marketable products starts with prototypes that are offered to selected customers for testing ( market communication ). The product life cycle begins with the market launch .

If the product is sold well after appropriate advertising measures, the acceptance management accompanying product development was also successful.


Product development has been an independent subject in Germany since 1996, leading to a Bachelor's degree . This course is offered at the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences , among others . The Production and Product Development course is offered at the Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences . The Bochum University of Applied Sciences offers its campus Velbert / Heiligenhaus the Bachelor program in Mechatronics & Product Development at both basal as well as dual. From 2020 the master’s course of the same name can also be studied there. In addition, the bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering with a specialization in product development and the master's degree in Integrated Design Engineering are offered at the Otto von Guericke University in Magdeburg. The Chair for Product Development at the Technical University of Munich , the Institute for Product Development and Machine Elements (pmd) and the Institute for Mechatronic Systems in Mechanical Engineering (IMS) at the Technical University of Darmstadt and the Institute for Product Development (IPEK) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology ( KIT) , as well as the Institute for Product Development and Construction Technology at the TU Hamburg-Harburg . At the University of Applied Sciences Bingen there is also the possibility to study product development as an industrial engineer. From the winter semester 2008/2009 it will be possible to study the master's degree in "Integrated Product Development" at the South Westphalia University of Applied Sciences (Iserlohn) . At the Pforzheim University since the winter semester of 2005 Master's program "Product Development" is offered. The HAW Hamburg since 2016 offers the Master's degree program in engineering design and product development in mechanical engineering. The RheinMain University of Applied Sciences offers the part-time postgraduate master's degree in “Product Development and Manufacturing”. The Aachen University of Applied Sciences also offers a master's degree in product development. The University of Applied Sciences in Würzburg-Schweinfurt also offers a degree in mechanical engineering with a focus on product development. At the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences, the course “Product Development” can be chosen as a specialization. Starting in the 2019/2020 winter semester, the University of Wuppertal will be offering the focus on "Product Innovations" for the Master's degree in mechanical engineering.

See also


  • Gerhard Pahl: construction theory. Basics of successful product development. Methods and application. 7th edition Springer, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-540-34060-7 .
  • Werner Engeln: Methods of Product Development . Oldenbourg Industrieverlag, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-8356-3112-0
  • Udo Lindemann: Methodical development of technical products. 2nd edition Springer, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-540-37435-0 .
  • Thomas Weber: Innovative product development - the result is not left to chance , AWNET, Berlin 2007.
  • Thomas Brinkmann: Product development with plastics . Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-446-42243-8 with online version and updates under "Online reading" under Impetus Plastics Consulting.
  • Arno Langbehn: Praxishandbuch Produktentwicklung . Campus Verlag, Frankfurt New York 2010, ISBN 978-3-593-39201-1 .

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Pahl / Beitz: Construction theory, basics of successful product development, methods and application , Springer, 2003 and 2005, page 10, ISBN 3-540-22048-8 .
  2. Pahl / Beitz: Design theory, basics of successful product development, methods and application , Springer, 2003 and 2005, Chapters 5 to 8, ISBN 3-540-22048-8 .
  3. Pahl / Beitz: Construction theory, basics of successful product development, methods and application , Springer, 2003 and 2005, page 187, ISBN 3-540-22048-8 .
  4. Pahl / Beitz: Construction theory, basics of successful product development, methods and application , Springer, 2003 and 2005, page 203, ISBN 3-540-22048-8 .
  5. Pahl / Beitz: Construction theory, basics of successful product development, methods and application , Springer, 2003 and 2005, page 205, ISBN 3-540-22048-8 .
  6. Pahl / Beitz: Construction theory, basics of successful product development, methods and application , Springer, 2003 and 2005, page 276, ISBN 3-540-22048-8 .
  7. Pahl / Beitz: Construction theory, basics of successful product development, methods and application , Springer, 2003 and 2005, page 522, ISBN 3-540-22048-8 .
  8. Bochum University: Mechatronics and Product Development. Retrieved November 1, 2019 .