AMI's Newsletter
February 2012

The AMI February newsletter features an article from our industrial designer, Dale Wunderlich, that describes industrial design and how it can be utilized to make products more competitive in the marketplace.


We also have a link to a radio interview with our bioprocessing/chemical engineer, Sigi Castro, discussing the phosphorus reduction system (Phred) we developed with the Kansas Environmental Management Associates to remove phosphorus in wastewater from cattle feedlots.


Next month, we will have an article from FEA analyst, Matt Campbell.


Give me a call at 785-532-7044 or e-mail if you have any questions or projects you would like to discuss. You can also connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.


AMI...Engineering Success.



Taylor Jones

Chief Engineer

Feature Article

What is Industrial Design?


Dale Wunderlich

Industrial Designer


If I get one question more than any other when talking to groups or individuals in Kansas, it is "what is industrial design" or "how does industrial design differ from engineering design?" I have to admit, as a profession, industrial design does not do a good job preparing practitioners to explain the occupation itself. 


Usually, I describe industrial design as the process of making products more desirable, useable and functional. However, I have to admit that everyone in the product development process is also concerned with making products more desirable, useable and functional. A more suitable definition is: good industrial design is the positive differentiation on anything other than simple price or specification.


No one I know has created quite as good a list to impart the components of good design as Dieter Rams, long time designer for Braun and noted inspiration to Jony Ives, the lead industrial designer for Apple. According to Rams, good design:

  • Is innovative - The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.
  • Makes a product useful - A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.
  • Is aesthetic - The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.
  • Makes a product understandable - It clarifies the product's structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user's intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.
  • Is unobtrusive - Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools, they are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user's self-expression.
  • Is honest - It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
  • Is long-lasting - It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years - even in today's throwaway society.
  • Is thorough down to the last detail - Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.
  • Is environmentally friendly - Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
  • Is as little design as possible - Less, but better because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

This list can be used by designers and decision makers in all industries, whether making consumer products or selling only to other businesses.


Unfortunately, the amazing success of Apple's iPads and iPhones has diverted a great deal of attention from domestic companies that manufacture well-designed products domestically.


For more inspiration about American manufacturer's using design to create positivity-differentiated products, head over to Fast Company's special section on U.S. Design at or download the iPad application featuring 76 products with world class designs made in America.


Could industrial design help your products succeed? Drop me a line at or give me a call at 785-532-0461 and we'll discuss. 

AMI Logo

AMI Bioprocessing Engineer Sigi Castro 

Talks with K-State Radio Network

Listen to Sigi Castro, bioprocessing/chemical engineer, talk about the system AMI has created

to remove phosphorus from wastewater and address environmental regulations.


The segment aired February 1, 2012 on the

K-State Radio Network.

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