P08405: Novel Materials Technology
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Generate Product Concepts

Table of Contents

Step 1. Clarify The Problem

The problem posed for this project is to create a device capable of creating an aerogel. This design will have many subsystems devoted to: cooling, moility, evacuated atmosphere, sensing, and general controls. Integration of all these subsystems into one large system will be necessary for a successful project. A functional decomposition of the product functions was also conducted as a team to isolate all systems necessary to the success of the project.

Step 2. Search Externally

Lead users of the product were consulted as to the needs of this project. This information was then used to develop the specifications for each subsystem and Pugh matrices were used to decide between subsystem concepts. A freeze drying manual from LABCONCO was also consulted as a source of outside information. Limited benchmarking was done against some existing products from companies such as LABCONCO, but full tear down or further benchmarking was inhibited by product cost.

Step 3. Search Internally

A brainstorming session was held during a team meeting to generate concepts for evaluation and possible selection for the product subsystems. Each team member made his own list of proposed ideas individually for about fifteen minutes. The group then compiled individual lists to form a master team list and concept selection was set to begin.

Step 4. Explore Systematically

Each team member was then assigned a subsystem to research and gain more information and specifications on. This information was brought back to the team at the next meeting and the team prepared to start concept selection. From here, the Pugh selection method was used for concept selection.

Step 5. Reflect on the Results and the Process

The concept generation process has many phases and iterations. Sometimes it is useful to generate ideas individually and then look at them as a team; other times it is more beneficial to have the responsible team member make an executive decision. Many iterations of this process may be necessary as more information becomes available or the project scope changes.

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