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Empirical Study on Product Flexibility

[+] Author Affiliations
Palanisamy Kuppuraj Palani Rajan

Applied Materials, Inc., Austin, TX

Michael J. Van Wie

University of Missouri at Rolla, Rolla, MO

Kristin L. Wood, Matthew I. Campbell

University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

Kevin N. Otto

Product Genesis, Inc., Cambridge, MA

Paper No. DETC2004-57253, pp. 109-124; 16 pages
  • ASME 2004 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 3a: 16th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, September 28–October 2, 2004
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4696-2 | eISBN: 0-7918-3742-4
  • Copyright © 2004 by ASME


Product flexibility is the ability of a product to allow future design changes to take place with minimal impact to the current design solution. Flexible designs lead to reductions in redesign cost because the impact of evolutionary changes does not propagate extensively. When considering the efforts taken in the past to understand product flexibility and develop associated metrics, most prior research focuses on the manufacturing domain rather than the product itself. In this paper, we investigate various physical factors that affect product flexibility. This study focuses on understanding flexibility by conducting an empirical study of existing products in the market. The physical characteristics, such as the number of parts, functions, interfaces, type of interfaces, modules, the way these modules are arranged, and OEM parts, are found to directly affect product flexibility. From these factors, guidelines are derived to codify this knowledge of designing for flexibility. This research brings us toward our future objectives of developing a generic flexibility metric and a prescriptive method for design for flexibility.

Copyright © 2004 by ASME
Topics: Plasticity



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