Magazine article Careers & Colleges

Product Designer

Magazine article Careers & Colleges

Product Designer

Article excerpt

Designs and, creates models of products that companies s may sell in the future.

The details of Matt Mantz's as a product designer for Lincoln-Mercury are as closely guarded as any top secret government mission. Mantz designs concept cars: cutting-edge vehicles that Ford is considering for the future. Confidentiality is important to protect the company's ideas from competitors.

"I'd really like to tell friends and family what I'm working on, but I can't," says Mantz, 25.

Most product designers are reamed either in a consulting firm or for a large corporation. At the Lincoln-Mercury Concept Center in Valencia, California, the design process is divided among three reams. Ford, Lincoln-Mercury's parent company, sends the Center information on the vehicle it feels will be competitive in the future, along with its target market. The first team puts its ideas on paper. Next, Mantis group translates the drawings into a life-size, three-dimensional model.

His ream starts by building an aluminum frame and surrounding it with a wooden box frame. They layer six inches of foam over the wood and then add about two inches of clay. The designers then use clay-working tools to sculpt the exterior and interior of the vehicle, including intricate details such as door handles, headlights, and dashboard instruments.

Once the model is complete, the third group makes a fiberglass cast of the vehicle from the day mold and adds details such as windows and seats to create a "pushmobile"--a car that looks exactly like the real thing but is nonfunctional.

For security reasons, Mantis group must destroy its models once the pushmobiles are cast. "We spend two months making a model and then two hours destroying it," says Mantz. "We turn on loud music like Metallica and use sledgehammers. It gets rid of our aggressive feelings."

Mantz's occupation is an extension of his childhood hobbies, which included drawing, woodworking, and modeling. …

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