Title: Principles for designing products with flexibility for future evolution

Authors: Andrew H. Tilstra; Peter B. Backlund; Carolyn Conner Seepersad; Kristin L. Wood

Addresses: 3M, Software, Electronic, and Mechanical Systems Corporate Lab, 3M Center, St. Paul, MN, USA ' Sandia National Laboratory, Albuquerque, NM, USA ' Mechanical Engineering Department, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA ' Engineering Product Development, Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore

Abstract: Product flexibility is defined as the capability of a product to be redesigned quickly and economically into subsequent product offerings. In this paper, a comprehensive set of design guidelines is created for product flexibility by merging the results of two research studies - a directed patent study of notably flexible products and an empirical product study of consumer products analysed with a product flexibility metric. The guidelines are organised in categories that describe how and under what circumstances they increase flexibility for future evolution. The guidelines are critically evaluated by comparing them to existing literature on closely related topics, including product platforms and mass customisation. Two examples are provided to illustrate how the use of the guidelines can improve a product's flexibility for future evolution.

Keywords: product evolution; product flexibility; design guidelines; design principles; product architecture; change propagation; product design; flexible products; product platforms; mass customisation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMASSC.2015.069597

International Journal of Mass Customisation, 2015 Vol.5 No.1, pp.22 - 54

Accepted: 19 Jul 2014
Published online: 28 May 2015 *

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