hey guys new here but this is my understanding;
Just to say, first of all this is what im studying atm; product design at swinburne uni VIC Austrailia, under the faculty of engineering, all the following is cut n paste.
Product Design is a combination of two traditionally separate fields each with its own strength: engineering with its scientific material and manufacturing knowledge and industrial design with its human centred approach to design. They have been brought together to produce a new breed of graduates who will be able to design and develop competitive products from concept to engineering validation and manufacture.
Graduates will find employment in industries dealing in the design, development and manufacture of domestic products or the automobile industry. Their role will be primarily in the area of design, innovation, project management and manufacturing.
Graduates are eligible to apply for graduate membership of the Institution of Engineers, Australia and the Design Institute of Australia.
At completion of their program at Swinburne, graduates should be able to:
a) apply fundamental knowledge of engineering, mathematics and science;
b) use the techniques, skills and modern tools in product design engineering to practice as a product design engineer;
c) identify, formulate, solve and evaluate engineering problems;
d) design and conduct experiments as well as to analyse and interpret data;
e) identify and practice professional and ethical responsibility;
f) design and develop engineering solutions to meet desired needs within realistic economic, environmental, social, ethical, health and safety, manufacturing, and sustainability constraints;
g) apply knowledge and skills that are demonstrably in demand by the industry;
h) recognise the need for and to engage in lifelong learning;
i) function and communicate effectively in multi-disciplinary teams.
the following are excerpts from Wiki;
Product design is sometimes confused with industrial design, industrial design is concerned with the aspect of that process that brings that sort of artistic form and usability usually associated with craft design to that of mass produced goods.
Product designers conceptualize and evaluate ideas, making them tangible through products in a more systematic approach. Their role is to combine art, science and technology to create tangible three-dimensional goods.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Product_design
TO sum up i would say that Product design is the blending of traditional industrial design with a more mechanical engineering and material science flavor . I think that it is a fairly recent development meant to bridge the gap between engineers and designers, buy educating new designers in a multi discipline way. in industry you will find many older designers or engineers with may years of experience that through their life have cross pollinated with the other side ( eng or des) and become more useful as team leaders who can understand and comunicate between the two fields , and most importantly follow the product all the way through its life cycle.
thats what i understand any way , please point out any errors if u feel