Novel product concepts are often down-selected in favour of the incremental development of available designs. This can be attributed to the fact that for the development of a new product, simulations and analysis based on high-fidelity CAD models are required, which are expensive to create. To solve this problem, the use of a function model (FM) as intermediate step between ideation and embodiment is suggested.
The approach has been examined in a case study with an aerospace company for the development of a turbine rear assembly, using multiple workshops and interviews with practitioners from the company. A multitude of novel solutions, even extending the functionality of the legacy design, were captured. The FM approach proved to support the representation, analysis, and configuration of 102 different concepts. Although supported by the FM model, the embodiment still showed to be a bottle neck for further development. The subsequent interviews with practitioners showed that the benefits of the approach were seen, but experienced as too complex.
Further work will concern a more systematic connection between the FM and CAD model, in order to automate of the embodiment process.