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Concept Opportunity Diagrams: A Visual Modeling Method to Find Multifunctional Design Concepts

[+] Author Affiliations
Rachel Kuhr, Kristin Wood, Richard Crawford

The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

Dan Jensen

U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO

Paper No. DETC2010-29068, pp. 193-205; 13 pages
  • ASME 2010 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 1: 36th Design Automation Conference, Parts A and B
  • Montreal, Quebec, Canada, August 15–18, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4409-0 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3881-5
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME


A transforming product is a system that has different functionality when physically changed or reconfigured into a different state. This increased functionality allows diverse customer needs to be met in a single product. Transforming devices have become more prevalent in recent years, as customers desire both increased capabilities and reduced complexity to reduce waste in our society. When designing a multifunctional product that transforms from one state to another, it can be difficult to conceptualize a design that does not reduce effectiveness or provide a compromise in either state. Transformational Design Theory has been developed and shows basic principles and facilitators that enable transformation to occur within a product space. An illustrative example is a chair designed to flip over to be used as a table. Flip is one of the 19 facilitators that are found in transformation design. This is also an example of expose/cover, a transformation design principle. Certain principles and facilitators are more prevalent than others in different design domains (such as tools, storage, organisms etc.). If we know the states that exist within the transformer, concept opportunity diagrams can be used to determine the opportunities for transformation within each state. When the diagrams are paired with a constituent relationship chart specific to each domain, new design concepts may be facilitated. This technique creates a cognitive process for designers where they process a series of questions when creating the concept opportunity diagram. The diagram will help them understand the unanticipated additional design space of each state. The Constituent Relationship Chart is a tool that allows them to apply their knowledge of these states to the facilitator hierarchy so that prospective facilitators can directly contribute to originally unforeseen design concepts. This paper presents this twofold process known as the Transformer Diagram Matching Method and shows the results on a fully functioning prototype of an office supply transformer. Although the proposed process is detailed, it allows the designer to find a large number of quality concepts they would not have foreseen otherwise. Our original concept generation processes produced thirty eight ideas, but this process added another thirty two ideas to the design space. The paper indicates specifically how this method can be integrated in with the standard transformational design process as well as suggests strategies for implementation within other design techniques.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME



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