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Product Cycle

2.1.1 Describe the product cycle.


  • Designing is part of the product cycle.
  • A need is generated and a product is designed, manufactured, and sold.
  • Product eventually becoming obsolete (out of use).
  • Distributors, retailers, accountants and production engineers, who all have an affect over the cycle, complicate the cycle.
  • Unlike in the design process, the designer is not necessarily in control of the cycle.
  • In CAD (computer aided design) and CAM (computer aided manufacture), the designer actually becomes part of the cycle by creating the prototype from a personal computer.

Stages of product cycle

  • Need: A need for a certain product is generated.
  • Design & Manufacturing: The product is drawn and designed for the manufacturer. The manufacturers or people who construct the designed product look at the design and materials to see if the product can be made. If it is not possible to make the merchandise, it is returned to the designer.
  • Obsolete: The end product eventually becomes "obsolete", meaning outmoded or no longer in use, leading back to the need for a new product.
  • Encyclopedia of Business website on Product Life Cycle

2.1.2 Discuss the role of the designer in the product cycle.

Designing is part of the product cycle: as a need is generated, a product is designed, made and sold, eventually becoming obsolete. The cycle is complicated by distributors, retailers, accountants and production engineers, all of whom have an influence over the cycle. Although the designer is an integral part of the process, he or she is not necessarily in control (unlike in the design process).
Computer-aided design (CAD) and computer aided manufacture (CAM), where a prototype is produced by the designer from his or her personal computer (PC), blurs this distinction.
Designers carry out design work for a project. Designers have the task of creating or of being creative in a particular area of expertise. It is frequently used to reference someone who draws or in some ways uses visual cues to organize their work. Designers are usually responsible for making a model that takes into consideration each step in a product's development. They first design the product and then send there idea to go be manufactured and then bring back a prototype to be evaluated. This is a part of the product cycle which includes (distributors, retailers, accountants and production engineers, all of whom have an influence over the cycle). The designer has a certain amount of control over the actual product design but not as much over the product cycle.

2.1.3 Outline the product cycle in terms of early, mature and late stages of development.

In the early stages of the product cycle, many changes to the product take place until it develops to the mature stage, where it is diffused into the market, gains acceptance and sells well. In the late stage, the product begins to decline in need and therefore in sales.

There are three main stages of the product life cycle which are early, mature and late. During the early stages the product has just recently been introduced into the market and tends not to sell well and maybe overpriced in order to break-even. It also undergoes many changes. During the Mature stages of the product cycle the product is now reached its peak where little changes to its design occur and sells very well. During the late stage the product's sales decline and becomes obsolete.

2.1.4 Identify products that are at the early, mature and late stages of their product cycle.

The ballpoint pen is in the mature stage, as it still sells well although the design does not change much. The cassette tape is in the late stage, as it has been overtaken by successive generations of products.
Early Stage
The Hybrid Car, for example, is in its early stage of the design cycle, because the makers of Hybrid Cars are making great advancements to their product in a very small amount of time, so the Hybrid Car is still researching and making changes to their product since they have first emerged. They are still searching for the best and most efficient way to produce energy from “clean fuel” and Fossil fuels combined to consume dramatically less fossil fuels, and thus, cut expenses in buying fuel that gets more and more expensive every day. People are also still doing heavy research on how to produce the new “clean fuel” in the most efficient manner to make it cheap for the customers, as well as efficient and safe storage.
Mature Stage
The ballpoint pen is in the mature stage, as it still sells well although the design does not change much. People all over the world use pens everyday, and people buy pens everyday, as it is still being widely used in everyday life. The only thing that is being changed to the pen today is its aesthetics and features. People create pens in all different styles and sizes, and unique pen designs are emerging everywhere. But the point is, they are all pens, and they all use the same principle: put ink and ink material into a tube and make the ink dry on the paper once it leaves the tube, but not dry up inside. Pens today still sell very well, even though it has been invented 64 years ago. There is no public need in improving the pen’s characteristics. The only improvements are aesthetics, to add style and identity to the pens. But in the end, the pen created still uses the mechanisms of the traditional pens. The pen has matured in its product cycle.
Late Stage
The cassette tape is ancient. It was widely used in the ‘80s, and lived up to being around in the ‘90s. It was widely sold during those times, and it sold very well. Today, nobody uses cassette tapes anymore. The cassette tape is old technology. Today, there is newer technology such as the CDs, which was widely used during the early 2000s, and more recently the MP3 and the iPod. The cassette tape may still be used quite extensively in third-world countries, but in the Western World, the cassette tape is outdated, thus being in the late stage of the design cycle.
Find two products that are in each stage of the product life cycle and write a sentence describing why.
Article and image from the SMH

2.1.5 Compare the design cycle with the product cycle.

Highlight how the design process is aimed at producing a suitable solution to a problem, and that the product cycle is concerned with putting that solution into commercial practice.

2.1.6 Discuss why for many products the product cycle has shortened.

Compare a laptop computer and a ballpoint pen. Laptop computers are an intensely competitive market, with size and power being key issues.

In the field of Laptop computers, there is the need to have the fastest, lightest, and smallest laptop with the longest battery life. This causes many laptops to soon become obsolete after their release, as the market will all ways have a new contender for the ultimate machine. The life cycle of a laptop is therefore shortened, because it is considered obsolete after a newer and faster product is released. For ballpoint pen, for example, has a longer product cycle. The need to write is addressed by the almost unchanging technology inside of the pen. This product could possibly never become obsolete, this would mean that the product cycle could never end.

:Identify and describe two products (other then a phone, mp3 player, tablet or computer) that have a shortened product cycle


Bulleted list and italicised paragraphs are excerpted from Design Technology: guide. Cardiff Wales, UK: International Baccalaureate Organization, 2007.

Images are clickable links to its location.

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Page last modified on September 04, 2013, at 09:44 PM