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School of Business | Department of Management and International Business | International Design Business Management (IDBM) | 2013
Thesis number: 13336
Creating value by incorporating design into the materials selection process. A material manufacturer's perspective.
Author: Benker, Andreas
Title: Creating value by incorporating design into the materials selection process. A material manufacturer's perspective.
Year: 2013  Language: eng
Department: Department of Management and International Business
Academic subject: International Design Business Management (IDBM)
Index terms: kilpailukyky; competitiveness; palvelut; service; design management; design management; tuotekehitys; product development; valmistus; manufacturing
Pages: 117
Key terms: competitiveness, industrial services, interdisciplinarity, material inspiration, material design, materials selection process, meaning of materials, product design
Abstract: Selecting the right material for an intended product is a crucial part of any product development process. Materials and their respective properties have a strong influence on product design and processing possibilities, which in turn affect product performance. Product developing companies strive to minimize the trade-offs they have to make between these interdependent variables and maximize the potential for innovation by combining expertise from different disciplines. Material manufacturers are a common source of information for product developers to gain insights about material properties and processing methods, yet this knowledge still has to be attuned with or translated into the intended product design.

This study examines the case of a material manufacturer's internal design department, which complements the company's technical material expertise in order to offer industrial services that cut across the different disciplines involved in a materials selection process. The objective is to explore and evaluate the additional service value created by the design discipline. It is crucial to determine the kind of value that is created internally for the material manufacturer as well as externally for its clients in order to justify the investment in the design department to management and decide on its future alignment based on the findings.

Several activities that are either facilitated or initiated by the design discipline have been detected. These include supporting internal business units throughout their client interactions as well as engaging with clients directly throughout their materials selection process. The study shows that an internal design department enables material manufacturers to offer a more holistic client support, exceeding the mere technical aspects of material inquiries. Material manufacturers that manage to include the design discipline in their consultation services are evolving from solely selling materials to becoming a materials solution provider and driver for product innovation, which in turn increases their relevance for customers and enhances their competitive positioning.
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