158: Incorporating Sustainability in Your Product Design Process

158: Thinking Sustainability in Hardware Product Design

January 11, 2023

With Dave Duncan, VP Sustainability at PTC

Hosted by Kevin Mako, President of MAKO Design + Invent

158: Thinking Sustainability in Hardware Product Design
158: Thinking Sustainability in Hardware Product Design

PTC, the company responsible for creating software solutions like OnShape and CREO, has Dave Duncan as their Vice President of Sustainability. With over two decades of experience in the product design software industry and a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Princeton University, Dave has a wealth of knowledge to share with inventors, startups, and small manufacturers. During his presentation, he will provide insights on how to develop a sustainable product, the three different types of product sustainability, and how modern best practices can be used to increase product marketability by prioritizing sustainability during the development process. This information is sure to be valuable for those looking to achieve product success.

Today you will hear us talk about:

  • Designing with sustainability in mind is crucial for creating environmentally responsible products.
  • Sustainable manufacturing practices must be employed to minimize the environmental impact of production.
  • Effective product lifecycle management is essential for maintaining product sustainability over time.
  • Incorporating sustainable design principles early in the product development process is important for maximizing impact.
  • Carbon emissions are a primary environmental impact of product manufacturing and should be minimized through sustainable design and manufacturing practices.
  • Sustainable product design is a viable option and should be considered when developing new products.
  • Adhering to sustainability regulations is necessary, but it’s also important to go beyond these regulations to improve product sustainability.
  • Sustainability should be incorporated early in the product design lifecycle to ensure maximum impact.
  • Software tools can help analyze sustainable design options and make informed decisions.
  • Building sustainability into product design from the outset is key to achieving environmentally responsible outcomes.
  • Even in B2B product sales, there is a growing interest in sustainable products, which can give businesses a competitive edge.
  • As a startup, sustainability can be a valuable advantage in differentiating products and services.
  • The majority of a product’s environmental impact is determined during the design phase, with only a smaller percentage able to be reduced during manufacturing.
  • Bottleneck analysis and energy management are critical tools for improving product sustainability.
  • Implementing circular economy principles and circular product design can help reduce waste and extend the useful life of products.
  • When designing a product, it’s important to consider end-of-life scenarios, such as re-use, recycling, or reconfiguration.
  • Developing commercial relationships with customers around end-of-useful-life scenarios can help extend product sustainability.
  • Generative design tools, such as those available in OnShape, can help reduce materials use through AI-driven optimization.
  • With the help of tools like Arena, bill of materials management and analysis can help improve product sustainability.


  1. 3:17 – Our planet and society now wants to leave the planet better than what we started with
  2. 3:35 – Sustainability in manufacturing is primarily in reducing the carbon footprint, and reducing the amount of material waste along the way
  3. 4:51 – Figure out what you have to do regarding sustainability (what are the regulations), but furthermore, what should you do.
  4. 5:35 – Historically, hardware companies eventually do sustainability late in development or even manufacturing.  Better to start much earlier in the actual design process.
  5. 6:30 – You can use design software much earlier in the process to identify sustainability efficiencies
  6. 10:27 – Companies more and more are reporting on sustainability as a metric in their purchasing decisions for buying hardware products
  7. 11:00 – Green products are more and more desired by corporate buyers
  8. 11:48 – Sustainability is an advantage for a hardware startup because you can move faster on making sustainable decisions than big corporate.
  9. 13:43 – 80% of a product’s footprint overall is determined in the actual design phase.
  10. 14:20 – Manufacturing bottleneck analysis.
  11. 15:18 – Manufacturing energy management.
  12. 15:45 – There is software that can analyse manufacturing sustainability even at the factory level
  13. 19:05 – The circular economy, circular product, lifecycle management.
  14. 19:20 – Sustainability at the product’s end of life
  15. 20:10 – Your commercial arrangements for sustainability


Dave Duncan Links:
LinkedIn | Try OnShape for Free | Creo

The Product Startup Podcast Links:
Instagram | LinkedIn | Facebook Page | Facebook Group | Pinterest | Twitter | YouTube

PTC Links:
OnShape | Creo

Mako Design Links:
YouTube | Instagram | LinkedIn | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

Kevin Mako Links:
Instagram | LinkedIn | Quora | Facebook | Twitter

Partner: PTC’s best-in-class software solutions Onshape: The only cloud-native product development platform that delivers full-featured computer-aided design (CAD), integrated product data management (PDM) and enterprise analytics in a single system, and Creo: 3D CAD solution that provides designers with the most innovative tools to build better products faster, such as generative design, additive manufacturing, real-time simulation, IIoT, and augmented reality.