Modular design is when products are developed with the integration of small parts and hardware keeping, them independent of the whole product.

If you’re interested in learning more about what modular design is and how it impacts the development of products, read on to find out everything that you need to know in our comprehensive guide.

What is modular design?

Modular design takes the approach of developing products with small parts and components, meaning that a product contains parts that are independent of each other and can in theory be replaced or updated.

Modular design is present in large products like cars, with elements like the engine, battery, wheel, radiator and brake all being independent of each other. For a product as large and complex as a car this is significant, as if you were having trouble with the breaking mechanism, it wouldn’t be feasible to replace the entire machine.

However, modular design is not just utilised in large technology. A lot of devices like mobile phones and tablets are also designed with a modular approach, since not only does it promote circular design, it makes more sense for the consumer.

For example, if you were to crack your phone screen, it would be too expensive and time-consuming to replace the entire phone as a whole. Plus, the environmental effects of having to purchase a new handset after one component was damaged would be detrimental and produce too much waste, which can be avoided by using a modular design.

iPhone deconstructed circular designiPhone deconstructed circular design

Moreover, modular designs can encourage products to be upgraded, as it is much easier to upgrade a singular component than a product overall. However, the ability to upgrade a product will depend on what it is, with a product like a car being easier to upgrade without relying on the manufacturers than something like a phone or a tablet.

Non-modular designs, however, usually benefit the manufacturers and can have more commercial advantages, as it means that people will need to upgrade their devices if they are broken or can’t be easily upgraded. Despite this, companies can still make a profit from modular designs, as if someone cracks their phone screen they will still need to pay the company they brought it from to replace it.

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