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Product Architecture Navigation Integration Tool: Redesign Towards Modular Architecture

[+] Author Affiliations
Jeff Morris, Mark Steiner

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY

Paper No. DETC2006-99507, pp. 379-387; 9 pages
  • ASME 2006 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 4a: 18th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, September 10–13, 2006
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4258-4 | eISBN: 0-7918-3784-X
  • Copyright © 2006 by ASME


Inherent to every product design and design process is the concept of architecture. Designers and engineers can use a product’s architecture as a roadmap towards achieving and maintaining a competitive edge in the rapidly changing global marketplace. Current engineering design tools such as computer-aided design (CAD) often focus exclusively on the geometric domain of product architecture and do not provide a convenient format or the tools for assessing product architecture. This paper describes tools that can represent product architecture in the form of two-dimensional graph layouts, called “interaction graphs.” These graphs display the arrangement of parts and their interfaces to other parts in an assembly, and they are useful for designers because they offer a direct display of the complexity and arrangement of a design. This is not apparent when viewing assemblies in a three-dimensional space, as in the case with solid modelers. Interaction graphs offer explicit insight into the modularity of a design because of the simplification from complex geometry to simple nodes and edges. This graph layout allows the designer to visualize the extent of design integration. Using graph theory tools and analysis, a designer can filter parts that are candidates for deletion and categorize the “base” part. With this knowledge and the functional requirements of the design, the alignment of the base part to the primary functions becomes an important concept when striving for efficient redesign. Cycles in designs that inhibit modularity can be targeted for elimination based on joint complexity, material type, relative motion, functional specifications, and other life cycle attributes.

Copyright © 2006 by ASME



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