Transformer design : empirical studies of transformation principles, facilitators, and functions

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Weaver, Jason Michael

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Products that transform into multiple states give access to greater flexibility and functionality in a single system. These "transformers" capture the imagination and can be elegant, compact, and convenient. Mechanical transformers are usually designed ad hoc; a methodology specifically aimed at creating transformation processes would help the designer better understand when to use transformation and how to best exploit its advantages and avoid possible obstacles. There is an underlying common basis of principles and facilitators (e.g. Fold, Share Functions, Segment) that describes transformation processes. This thesis details an empirical study of 190 reconfigurable products across several domains, observing the use of principles, facilitators, and functions in transformation. The study confirms the consistent use of principles and facilitators across the design space and quantitatively determines the extent of correlation among them. An analysis of the relationship between these principles/facilitators and product functions is also discussed. A design methodology using WordTree Design-by-Analogy is presented and tested by designing a basic transformer system.


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