Stefanie Gügel-Wild is a Siemens Healthineers Industrial Designer

Stefanie Gügel-Wild is a Siemens Healthineers Industrial Designer

 April 25, 2022

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Siemens Healthineers Industrial Designer Stefanie Gügel-Wild helps create initial prototypes for medical equipment.

Stefanie and her team help give Siemens Healthineers products their distinctive face. 

Siemens Healthineers product design is backed by a complex development process based on design thinking and user experience.

Learn more about Stefanie's role as part of the Siemens Healthineers #Futureshaper series.

Enjoying a diverse range of work 

Siemens Healthineers Stefanie Gugel-Wild

"Product designers should be born with a measure of artisanal talent," explains Stefanie. But creating a product design takes far more than just that, particularly when it comes to complex medical devices. 

Stefanie's first medical technology project close to her heart was to design an incubator for preterm infants. She developed the design as part of her thesis while she was at the Schwäbisch Gmünd University of Applied Design in Germany, studying industrial and product design. 

"At university you learn the basic design principles and processes. And this should put you in a position to design any product," explains Stefanie. 

Stefanie's first jobs involved an appropriately diverse range of work. She designed children's furniture, toys, and accessories for a manufacturer of children's products.

Then, for a number of years, it was electronic devices such as televisions, radios, and speakers as well as kitchen appliances for a major consumer electronics producer.

Yet, the complexity of medical devices never ceased to fascinate her, leading her to join Siemens Healthineers in 2019, where she works today on the Design Team as Lead Industrial Designer.

Creating new products at Siemens Healthineers

As Stefanie explains in her Futureshaper interview, technical developers from the various business segments usually approach the Design Team once planning for a new product is underway. "It's important first of all to understand what precisely the problem is that we're trying to solve with this product?" says Stefanie. 

The design of a product never just serves some "decorative" end in itself. Its form follows the function that the product has for users and patients. All design considerations focus on serving people. "User experience" is the keyword here - the product should be intuitive to operate, and offer its users real added value. This is why every project begins with a detailed user survey, for example in hospitals or among physicians. What specific requirements do users have?

Product design starts with research

Besides the information they glean from user surveys, product designers need wide-ranging background knowledge and further research. Working in collaboration with the technical developers and colleagues from the User Experience Team, they clarify questions like:

  • What installation space do the technical components require inside the product?
  • What operating elements are needed?
  • What processes will later be used to manufacture the product and its individual components?
  • What requirements arise from hygiene regulations?
  • And, how much can the final product cost?

This is where Stefanie's work really kicks into high gear. And it takes endurance: "From the first draft to market launch, the process of developing a medical technology product takes two to three years on average," explains Stefanie. 

During this time frame, the product designers build any number of various models, called mockups. This process involves not only cutting, gluing, and screwing, but also simulating and testing in digital 3D spaces using software for computer-aided 3D modeling, or even virtual reality headsets. 

The team pursues its development of new product designs by applying a specially defined system based on the "design thinking" method.

Throughout the development process, Stefanie and her colleagues collaborate closely with the patent lawyers in the Intellectual Property Department to protect their designs internationally against plagiarism.

Unlike invention patents covering technical developments, a design right legally protects aesthetic aspects. Protection covers not only the shape of a device, but also the complete detailed design in terms of form and color. Siemens Healthineers holds over 1,600 such designs rights worldwide.

In terms of their visual design, every product from Siemens Healthineers is to some extent unique. Yet, a specified core design system is of course also in place for product design, geared to create a distinctive, unmistakable look that stands for the brand values. This overarching design system at Siemens Healthineers is called "Shui". Stefanie helped to draw up the industrial design specifications for this system.

The Industrial Design Team has won several different awards for its work. For its design of the MAGNETOM Free.Max magnetic resonance scanner, the team took home the Red Dot Design Award in 2021. Stefanie was the design lead responsible for the result.

The statement by the jury reads: "The MAGNETOM Free.Max surprises people with its unusual dimensions and masterfully puristic design."

Two key product advantages of the MAGNETOM Free.Max are decisively related not just to the innovation in its technical form, but also to its design: the scanner's transport height, and the diameter of the patient bore.

"In the past, hospital walls sometimes had to be torn down to get an MRI scanner into the building," Stefanie explains.

With a transport height of less than two meters, the MAGNETOM Free.Max easily fits through normal doorways.

Making patient examinations more comfortable

Another exceptional feature is the large patient bore, with a diameter of 80 centimeters – the widest of any whole-body MRI scanner ever built. This puts patients who are anxious, claustrophobic, or very corpulent at greater ease, allowing more comfortable examinations.

The success of the team has always been the most important thing for her, says Stefanie. When she finally stands in front of a finished product after such a long development period, it fills her with pride. "And if on top of everything else, we also win an award, that's of course fantastic."

More of a calling than a profession

Does the profession of product designer affect her private life in any way? "You obviously look at everyday products through different eyes. Whether it's architecture, fashion or cars: everything has its own design, sometimes better, sometimes not so good. There's a saying that designing isn't actually a profession, but a calling. So, in your private life, you can't of course switch off completely."

Stefanie admits that, when building her own home, she even shadow-mapped her terrace by computer simulation in a 3D program. "What angle will the sun shine at, how much shade is needed…" True makers don't leave anything to chance.

Inspired to join Siemens Healthineers?

Siemens Healthineers aims to be an employer of choice for everyone who seeks to continuously learn, innovate, and pioneer breakthroughs in healthcare. 

If the work of an Industrial Designer for Siemens Healthineers is inspiring - check out the job vacancies available. 


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