Date of Award

12-2007

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Mechanical Engineering

Advisor

Summers, Joshua

Committee Member

Fadel , Georges

Committee Member

Blouin , Vincent

Abstract

A morphological chart is a tool that represents a large qualitative design space. These charts list the functions identified for the design problem, and the means (solutions) that can perform each function. Combining one means for each function will produce a potential integrated conceptual design solution. Repeating this process with every possible combination contained in the morphological chart will generate a long list of conceptual design solutions. Not all of these solutions will be practical, or even physically possible.
As it is difficult to analyze a long list of design solutions and as at present, there are no systematic design tools to aid in such an analysis, a systematic study of morphological charts is explored in this thesis to build the foundation for developing future systematic exploration tools. Existing tools operate by eliminating possibilities at higher levels, such as with Axiomatic Design. Designers may sift through a morphological chart and create concepts based on what experience shows has worked in the past. Two experiments were conducted to determine relationships between morphological chart sizes and topologies with respect to the quality of design concepts generated from the charts. The findings from these experiments suggest that reducing the number of functions represented allowed designers to discover higher quality solutions. Based on these findings, recommendations are made to further filter morphological charts to sizes and shapes that are more easily explored by the designers.

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