Renaissance 1.5

Research output: Book/ReportReportResearch

Abstract

The Renaissance 1.5 project was based on the observation that in traditional product development, several iterations are needed to obtain a compromise between engineering, manufacturing constraints and aesthetics. The rapid advances in optimisation methods and in knowledge-based engineering (KBE) make it possible to integrate engineering and manufacturing constraints in a computer-based industrial design tool with direct links to digital fabrication, facilitating integration between design, engineering and production. Such a computer-based form-finding tool can moreover strengthen the design process through the use of advanced and aesthetically interesting morphologies from nature and mathematics, which so far have been mainly exploited within architecture. This tighter integration in combination shall in the long run enable consumers to actively participate in the generation of the design solution. Such an enhanced product development process would eventually blur the boundary between consumer-specific tailoring of products and mass-production.
The main goal of the project has been to test a framework that is expected to:
1. allow for a deeper integration of design into the product development process;
2. widen the creative repertoire of the designer (through the exploitation of forms inspired by nature and/or mathematics), which eventually would also result in
3. improved possibilities for mass-customisation.
The framework has been tested for one product type, shelving, from concept to production preparation. A software system has been developed that provides:
- users (designers or consumers) with the option to determine: product contour, number of compartments, and material
- a choice of morphologies: Voronoi diagram, Chinese lattice, D1 pentagon and hexagon tessellations, kite morphology
- choice of alternative materials: plywood, stainless steel, medium density fibreboard, linked to corresponding production techniques such as bending, cutting, etc.
- optimisation of shelving with a focus on the satisfaction of engineering and production constraints
- automated generation of the production preparation documents.
Based on the experiences accumulated in the course of the project, recommendations are also given for organisations that would be interested in the deployment of such a system.
It was discovered that a major issue-related to the complexity of the morphologies - was to devise an interface that allowed for easy handling by designers or consumers. This was prioritised before the other related questions such as how the interface would be implemented for online use. A first investigation showed that one group of users wanted maximum control over the form-finding process while another group preferred, somewhat surprisingly, to let the software alone create the product shape. A second investigation confirmed that these two control set-ups were appreciated by the users.
Several business models have been investigated. The possibility to combine aesthetics, tailoring and mass-production systems leads to substantial business opportunities.
Only one product typology has been developed. Beyond furniture, many 2.5-dimensional products can be generated with the help of the studied morphologies; flooring and wall elements, window grates and balustrades, elements of protections such as wind deflectors and noise barriers, etc.Two product prototypes were manufactured from the data that was generated by the software system.
The academic outcomes of the project have been presented in form of two conference papers ("double blind reviewed") and a journal article. The public was exposed to the project results through three exhibitions and the media. Contacts have been established with the industry (design and manufacturing companies) to which the project has been presented. The response has been positive from all parts.
This hypothesis-testing project has shown that the framework can be applied to different types of products and that there are several business models for which it can be profitable. The framework has also several limitations. The development of the computer system is itself time-consuming and requires that the morphologies, materials, and production systems be determined in advance. The interface development is crucial also in order for users to become interested in the system at all. The constraints evaluation and optimisation parts can be also time-consuming and can limit the user's manipulation alternatives.This framework can already be recommended to the industry. Several areas, however, would require a larger research investment. It is necessary first of to perform several case studies at a larger scale to show the framework validity. The contacted companies are interested but at the same time they want references in the form of the mentioned case studies as a proof of validity before any commitment will be considered. The process that a company must adopt in order to implement the proposed strategies must also be studied. This requires the development of a generic process that companies could use as a template.
The studied morphologies are relatively unproblematic to use for simple products. Their adaptation to more complex products can be more difficult. Many morphologies have not been investigated, such as 3D morphologies and their coupling to dynamic systems.
It appears that several companies already use parts of the framework in different contexts. If one wants that Sweden be in the front line in the development of such advanced, high-valued products, it will be necessary to continue investing in research on challenging morphologies and their applications, on effective optimisation systems and on interface issues.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherVinnova
Number of pages66
Publication statusUnpublished - 2011

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics

Keywords

  • industrial design
  • evolutionary computing
  • Renaissance 2.0
  • tessellations
  • machine design
  • maskinkonstruktion

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