163: Top 2023 Hardware Product Development Trends

163: 2023 Trends in Product Development for Hardware Products

February 16, 2023

With Brian Thompson, Head of CREO at PTC

Hosted by Kevin Mako, President of MAKO Design + Invent

163: 2023 Trends in Product Development for Hardware Products
163: 2023 Trends in Product Development for Hardware Products

With over 30 years of experience in the CAD design industry, Brian Thompson is in charge of overseeing PTC’s CREO CAD software. During the first 16 years of his career, Thompson focused on CAD design engineering, having worked on hundreds of products, many of which are still being produced today. For the past 14 years, he has been focused on building CAD software solutions that help designers create better hardware products. In this upcoming session, Thompson will be sharing his valuable insights on the three main product development trends for 2023 with inventors, startups, and small manufacturers. These trends include the use of design simulations, early manufacturing design, and the adoption of additive manufacturing for short or medium-term production runs.

Today you will hear us talk about:

  • In the design process, digital simulation is gaining more importance as a tool.
  • Advancements in technology have made it easier for non-experts to perform digital simulations within CAD design.
  • Incorporating CAD simulations earlier in the design process allows for faster identification and resolution of potential issues.
  • Utilizing simulations in design provides more opportunities for exploring different design alternatives.
  • Manufacturers are increasingly investing in integrating manufacturing considerations into the design process.
  • CAD software now provides a wider range of tools for evaluating designs and prototypes.
  • The three primary design steps are idea design, prototype and functional design, and design for manufacturing, in that order.
  • New software tools make it easier to progress through these steps and improve overall design quality.
  • Additive manufacturing is increasingly being used for short-run production.
  • The feedback from the first batch of parts produced through additive manufacturing presents a valuable opportunity for improvement.
  • Startups should plan on using additive manufacturing to reduce risk during their first production run.
  • It is important to design with additive manufacturing in mind and with a plan to transition to full-scale manufacturing as the business grows.
  • Equity should be a key consideration throughout the design and manufacturing process.


  • 3:00 – CAD Software is the foundation of all physical consumer product design and development
  • 5:30 – Simulation CAD tools to make design easier, faster, and cheaper.
  • 5:35 – Simulation earlier in the CAD design process
  • 5:45 – Simulation has become easier for CAD designers, you no longer need to be a simulation expert to do great simulations.
  • 6:30 – Simulation is not just for finding problems, but also for trying out ideas and opportunities in your design.
  • 8:20 – Invest in simulation earlier in the process in order to get to the best product to meet their customers’ needs.
  • 9:00 – Use simulation to solve most of your prototype problems, so that when you build a prototype physically, you can focus on the hardest challenges only.
  • 9:45 – Manufacturing design is happening earlier in the product development process.
  • 11:10 – The technologies in CAD software is getting more sophisticated on planning manufacturing in design.
  • 11:55 – Hardware startups today are looking to constantly iteratively improve their product between each manufacturing run, no longer are startups looking to make 1 product that is set and doesn’t change for 10 years like it used to be.
  • 12:20 – One of the misconceptions to a new startup going through their first product design process is that you can jump straight from design to manufacturing, without taking the highly necessary and important steps of engineering, prototyping, testing, and designing for manufacturing into account.
  • 13:00 – Design, then prototype, then design for manufacturing
  • 14:00 – Bring more manufacturing design earlier into the design, engineering, and prototyping processes so that when you go into manufacturing, it’s smooth.
  • 15:00 – Problems with your design are more costly to fix the further you go into development and especially into production/manufacturing.
  • 15:45 – Mako Design was pushed into Design for Manufacturing early in the agency’s life because, since Mako works with startups, they had to figure out how to manufacture the products that they designed since startups didn’t have those capabilities themselves.
  • 16:00 – By looking at designs for manufacturing earlier, the client has the power to address certain features early in deciding whether to spend more money figuring out those features or to save those features for a future product version.
  • 17:20 – Even big companies are starting to design this way, even though historically they designed the exact opposite – Big companies are trying to develop more like a startup to be able to compete with startups.
  • 18:15 – More and improved additive manufacturing is the 3rd major trend in 2023.
  • 19:00 – Additive manufacturing technology is improving at rocket speed.
  • 19:30 – Additive manufacturing is ready for high-quality first short production run for testing the product in the market, and getting design feedback from those early adopter customers.  It’s more than just prototypes now.
  • 20:15 – Additive is also making prototyping better, thus getting better feedback from your product prototype tests given the product is closer than ever to the manufactured units.
  • 20:30 – Short run additive manufacturing is an amazing bridge between prototyping and large scale manufacturing.
  • 21:15 – Don’t try and make money off your short production run, instead increase the equity value of your business by getting real customers and getting feedback from those customers.
  • 21:40 – Short run production heavily reduces the risk of gonig into production, both in ensuring your product has great product-market fit, and has high quality in manufacturing.
  • 22:00 – A short product run is very valuable to investors, and thus heavily increases your valuation and ability to raise money to scale into the market.
  • 22:45 – Plan to include an additive manufacturing run in your product development and launch plan, especially for risk mitigation.
  • 23:00 – You don’t need to build your own additive manufacturing facility, there are lots of vendors to help with this.
  • 24:00 – Liveworx 2023 is back, and is both live and virtual. The link is below!


Brian Thompson Links:
LinkedIn | LiveWorx 2023 | Try OnShape for Free | Creo | PTC

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.