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Product vs. process

Some years back, I put forth a thought about design. At the time, CNC machines were just coming into play and computers were starting to work their way into the woodworking world.

Since then, we have seen some amazing advances in this technology. So much so that most of the production work is now being done by these machines.

What I find most interesting about this new paradigm is the effect on how things are designed. More and more, the design is influenced by the capability of the machines used to produce it. I called this phenomenon “product vs process” design.

Product oriented design involves working out the design based solely on the vision and then figuring out how it will be made. Process oriented design is much more influenced by what the machines we have are capable of. Compromises in the design often need to be made to accommodate the equipment.

I’m not saying that one way is better than the other. And as these machines evolve, their capabilities are increasing to the point where it may not be nearly as big an issue. 

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