What Is A Product Design Engineer & What Do They Do?

Product Design Engineer is an incredibly familiar job title, used interchangeably across almost all industries. This crucial role impacts every aspect of life. No matter what you’re doing or where you are, a product design engineer has had a hand in forging the environment around you.

Sounds scary, doesn’t it?

Don’t worry. Product design engineers aren’t out to get you. They exist to help uncover solutions. Essentially, any business that creates physical or digital products is reliant on product design engineers to bring them to life.

Product Design Engineer Job Description & Responsibilities

A product design engineer job description depends on the employer. Overall, they’re tasked with generating ideas, designing, and developing new products consumers want to purchase.

Alternatively, they could also be in a position that requires them to adapt and evolve existing products to keep up with ever-changing customer needs.

Here are a few responsibilities your average product design engineer could be expected to have.

Assessing Market Requirements

Before idea generation can begin, a product designer must analyze the target audience and competitor products. This market research enables the product design engineer to uncover potential gaps in the market and the issues the target market is facing, enabling them to generate inspiring ideas.

Idea Generation & Creating Prototypes

While not all ideas will come from the mind of a product design engineer, they’re certainly responsible for making them a realistic possibility and building prototypes. This step includes sketching out designs, either on paper or digitally. Then created rendered models or digital wireframes – depending on the product’s physical or digital nature.

Finalizing Manufacturing & Development Requirements

Once it’s agreed that the prototype is fully working, product design engineers must finalize the manufacturing process, the materials to be used, and where the manufacturing will take place.

If the manufacturing or digital product development requires a third party to be involved, the product design engineer will be responsible for sourcing the appropriate partner to do this.

Finished Product Evaluation

Often, the manufacturing or development process takes multiple rounds of evaluation and tweaks before a product is finalized. As the creators of the product, product design engineers know exactly how the product should look, feel, and function. Therefore, they’re a crucial element in the testing and feedback process.

What Skills Does A Product Design Engineer Need To Have?

There is a range of role-specific and soft skills expected of a product design engineer. Some skills will differ depending on whether you’re working with physical or digital products.

Soft Skills

Problem Solving

To create successful products, a product design engineer needs to be able to pinpoint a problem and effectively create a solution. Many obstacles can interrupt design, manufacturing, and testing, and design engineers have to be able to overcome them.


Creative flair is a must for product designers. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to produce outstanding work that consumers want to buy if you didn’t possess creativity.

Communication & Stakeholder Management

A product design engineer will never work on a project alone. Whether you’re reporting to directors, collaborating with a design team, or providing direction to a manufacturer, you have to be prepared to communicate clearly and effectively with people at every level of business. Otherwise, your project will struggle to be a success.

Attention To Detail

Attention to detail is a prerequisite for product design engineers. Every step of the process, especially producing the final instructions for manufacture, relies on attention to detail.

Other elements, such as budgeting, will be factored into the role but this is usually reserved for management positions.

Technical & Job Specific Skills

  • Exceptional physical or digital sketching
  • CAD software or wireframe creation experience
  • Understand manufacturing processes
  • Familiarity with 3D modeling software
  • Good knowledge of testing and feedback reporting processes
  • The ability to learn and use new tools to develop new processes

The Rise Of Digital Product Design Engineers

In recent years, product design engineering services spread their wings to include digital products. This could include apps, Saas systems, and much more. You’ll find specialists in digital and physical products, so it’s important to note the differences as each carries a unique and specific skill set.

In Summary

Overall, digital product engineers are crucial for creating successful products that consumers want to buy. From initial research and idea generation to prototype development and manufacturing processes, the best digital product designers ensure every step is managed effectively.

At Shark Design, our digital product design engineering services are tried, tested, and proven. Let’s chat about your requirements and create some exceptional products together.

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