Supporting Form Synthesis: Modeling Product Structure and Behavior in a Computerized Environment
Design of consumer products involves a high degree of uncertainty, especially at the beginning of a project. There therefore exists a need for more accurate decision-making in product synthesis. On the whole, any step towards more reliable estimations and actions that contribute to the detection of potential problems before they arise in detail design and production, can save many hours of work later on. This need, together with the ever increasing complexity of products, necessitates structuring throughout the design process, and thus also in conceptual and form design.
This research aims at developing a product information model that contains structured prerequisites as well as concept descriptions. The approach in this work is to take advantage of information technology and explore the possibility of developing computer- and design-theory based methods and models. The idea is to make use of computer aid to increase the availability and applicability of methods and models based on design theory.
Focus has been placed on the early embodiment and treatment of form-related, especially user-related, requirements since visual form creation and communication play a central role in consumer product design.
The information model consists of specified requirements and their origin, a product hierarchy, a so-called organ structure and a part structure. It is represented by generic structure descriptions in both the functional and physical domains with linked geometric descriptions in two and three dimensions, using a careful choice of software and data handling. Methods related to the model and its representations are described by modeled examples of real product cases.
With the ambition to make both scientific and industrial contributions, the context of designing industrial products has been investigated and the models and methods - at various stages of completion - have been evaluated in close co-operation with practitioners. Design issues involving both engineering and industrial design have been focused upon.