Conceptual modelling of life cycle design : a modelling and evaluation method based on analogies and dimensionless numbers

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Doctoral thesis (monograph)
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TKK dissertations, 11
This thesis develops a paradigm for conceptual design based on the idea that dimensional analysis can improve the evaluation and comparison of concepts of solution during the conceptual design process. The conceptual design approach developed in this research is a combination of tasks which starts with the identification of the customer needs in a formalized manner is followed by the generation of design concepts taking into account the different phases of the physical life cycle and ends by the evaluation and adequacy analysis of the concepts of solution with the formalized needs. The General Design Theory (GDT) is used as the methodological basis of this work. Using the results of GDT, the research introduces a definition of the concept of function which is generic and not dedicated to a solution-based approach. Consequently the concept of function fulfils its intended objective of modelling the design problems at a general level. In addition to the concept of function, this thesis introduces a series of classifications based on generic concepts and rules aimed at generating concepts of solutions progressively. All these concepts are integrated into the developed metamodel framework. The metamodel provides a group of generic concepts associated with laws and mapped with a normalized functional vocabulary. The metamodel framework is an intermediate structure developed in order to provide guidance during the synthesis process and to meet the initial condition in order to transform the classification structure into a metric space. A metric space is a topological space with a unique metric. The transformation of the initial topological space into a metric space can be obtained when a series of conditions are verified. The first condition consists of clustering the concepts of solutions in order to underline the comparable aspects in each of them. This is done by using a set of dedicated rules. In addition three other fundamental conditions should be obtained. The metamodel framework ensures the first condition; an enhanced fundamental system of unit provides the second condition and a paradigm of separation of concept the third one. When all these three conditions are verified, it becomes possible to transform the design problems modelled by four types of generic variables into a series of dimensionless groups. This transformation process is achieved by using the Vashy-Buckingham theorem and the Butterfield's paradigm. The Butterfield's paradigm is used in order to select the minimum set of repeated variables which ensure the non-singularity of the metrization procedure. This transformation process ends with the creation of a machinery dedicated to the qualitative simulation of the concepts of solutions. The thesis ends with the study of practical cases.
conceptual design, life cycle design, dimensional analysis, topology, General Design Theory
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