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TECH208 Product Design

Unit rationale, description and aim

Computer-aided design is fundamental to product design in the twenty-first century, and this unit develops students’ ability to use computer-aided design and manufacturing to design, safely manufacture and critically evaluate designed products from a range of different materials including timber, plastic and metal. This unit contributes to an accredited sequence of industrial and design technologies units that is recognised by state-based Initial Teacher Education standards authorities (NESA, VIT and QCT) and aligns with the Australian Curriculum: Design and Technologies.

In this unit, through examples and case studies, students will explore design and manufacturing techniques suitable for timber, metal and plastics including CAD/CAM technologies and will develop designed products. They will also develop knowledge of the ways in which past, current and emerging technologies influence, and have influenced, principles and processes of product design and production. 

The aim of this unit is for students to explore how a range of resistant materials can be appropriately applied in designed products and contexts.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Discuss properties and performance characteristics of timber, metal and plastics as design materialsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC9, GC12
LO2Select and use a range of materials, tools and equipment competently and safely in the design, manufacture or fabricationGC1, GC2, GC3, GC8
LO3Interpret and apply principles of design using diagrammatic, graphic and text-based conventionsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC9, GC10, GC11
LO4Evaluate products in terms of appropriate material use, functionality, aesthetics and addressing user/s needsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC6, GC7, GC9


Topics will include:

Design Issues

  • Classification, structure and properties of timber, metal, and plastics
  • Analysis of properties and performance characteristics of timber, metal & plastics
  • Selection criteria for using various materials
  • Introduction to sustainability issues in a range of resistant materials
  • Introduction to design issues specific to timber, metal & plastics
  • Introduction to product design considerations of functionality, aesthetics, and user-centred design
  • Introduction to quality attributes specific to timber, metal & plastics design
  • Design of simple engineered systems
  • Forces and the properties of materials affect the behaviour and performance of engineered systems, machines and structures.

Manufacturing techniques

  • Design, fabrication and finishing techniques suitable for Industrial Design (resistant) materials
  • Timber
  • Metal
  • Plastics
  • Including: measuring and marking out, cutting, shaping, patterning/surface decoration, joining/assembly
  •  Hand and machine tools – care and use
  • Finishing techniques, functional and aesthetic
  •  Design, fabrication and use of timber, metal and plastic components in simple engineered systems
  • Computer-aided manufacturing (subtractive and additive processes)

Workplace Health and Safety

  • Workplace health and safety legislation
  • Safe operating procedures
  • Introduction to risk management processes (including risk assessment)

Implementing design solutions

  • Selection of materials and processes – considering characteristics, properties, functionality and the needs of the user/s
  • Life cycle thinking and sustainable design strategies
  • Iterative design development
  • Effective integration of design and manufacture
  • Selecting production methods and manufacturing resources
  • Production planning
  • Quality attributes
  • Product review and evaluation

Graphic and design communication techniques for Industrial Design

  • AS1100 drawing standards
  • Preparing, reading and interpreting production drawings
  • Computer-aided design

Technologies Workshop Safety

  • Safe Operating Procedures for Timber Workshop hand tools, equipment and machines used for manufacturing timber products
  • Safe Operating Procedures for Metal Workshop hand tools, equipment and machines used for manufacturing metal products
  • Management practices for technology teachers including safety and risk management, budgeting, selecting, storing, maintaining and replacing materials, equipment and other resources related to product design manufacturing technologies in Timber and Metal

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

A student-focused, problem-based learning approach is used in this unit. Students encounter concepts and principles of industrial design and design theory through interactive lectures, concepts are discussed and broadened through analysis of specific case studies and further informed by independent research during development of design projects. In practical workshops students design, manufacture and evaluate resistant materials and designed items. Design thinking skills in resistant materials are introduced through a practice-oriented learning method. This method involves the parallel development of procedural and conceptual skills required for design, development and documentation of material products in technologies. Students develop solutions to product design problems using a design thinking methodology and a user-centred design approach. They develop conceptual knowledge in resistant materials including timber, metal and plastic alongside procedural knowledge of materials and manufacturing technologies through practical design projects. Students design, manufacture, communicate and evaluate items using principles of product design.

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as reading, reflection, discussion, webinars, podcasts, video etc.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The problem-based learning strategy employed in this unit is supported by the integration of progressive authentic assessment tasks completed at critical points of the students’ learning. Theoretical conceptual knowledge and practical skills-based knowledge are developed simultaneously in that acquisition and assimilation of knowledge of knowledge. Initially students acquire knowledge of product design by undertaking research and developing a report on key concepts introduced in the lecture and they develop skills in design and manufacture through practical workshop classes. Safe work practices are introduced in workshops and assessed through a hurdle task. Practical workshops provide opportunities for formative assessment which supports assimilation of knowledge. Summative assessment aims to assess students’ application of knowledge and skills (conceptual, procedural and professional) competencies holistically using an integrated approach common in design education, which focusses on the assessment of an entire design activity rather than specific elements in isolation. In this unit the method aims to assess students’ achievement of a synthesis between design theory and practice in resistant materials. Therefore, the main assessment method used is design projects which include two components, a design documentation folio and a designed and manufactured product or products. Folios document students design processes and include evidence of identifying user needs, project definition, research, ideation, prototyping, iteration, critical evaluation and risk assessment.

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit objectives consistent with University assessment requirements. Such procedures may include online safety modules, reports, tutorial exercises and practical design projects with folios. Assessment tasks will address all learning outcomes as well as relevant graduate attributes.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Hurdle Task 

Technologies Workshop Safety Induction that requires student to demonstrate correct safe use of hand, machine and manufacturing technologies Timber and Metal in a workshop environment and related OnGuard WHS online safety training and testing records.



Assessment Task 1: Materials, Design and Fabrication Processes Report

Requires students to test and discuss properties and performance characteristics of resistant materials.



Assessment Task 2: Design Project 1

Requires students to demonstrate developing design and manufacturing knowledge of and skills in a range of resistant materials.


LO1, LO2, LO3

Assessment Task 3: Design Project 2

Requires students to demonstrate developing design and manufacturing knowledge, design communication skills and the ability to evaluate a designed product.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Representative texts and references

Ashby, M., & Johnson, K. (2014). Materials and design: The art and science of material selection in product design (3rd ed.). Butterworth-Heinemann.

Black, J., Kohser, R. & DeGarmo, E. (2018). DeGarmo's materials and processes in manufacturing (Global ed.). John Wiley & Sons.

Chanda, M. (2018). Plastics technology handbook (5th ed.). CRC Press.

Cuffaro, D., & Zaksenberg, I. (2013). Industrial design reference + specification book: Everything industrial designers need to know every day. Rockport Publishers.

Fiell, C., & Fiell, P. (2011). Industrial design A-Z. Taschen Books.

Lefteri, C. (2019). Making it: Manufacturing techniques for product design (3rd ed.). Laurence King Publishing.

Mastro, P. (2016). Plastics product design. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

O’Leary, J., & Livett, J. (2017). Nelson product design and technology VCE units 1-4 (4th edition.). Cengage Learning Australia. 

Rodgers, P., & Milton, A. (2015). Product design. Laurence King Pub.

Thompson, R. (2007). Manufacturing processes for design professionals. Thames & Hudson.

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