Research in chemistry, physics and materials science is generating a vast array of new materials with hitherto unforeseen properties. Turning these materials into innovative new products will require knowledge of their potential applications based on a deep understanding of their physical and chemical properties, combined with new approaches to product design.

The Manufacturing Futures Lab provides a forum for materials researchers to collaborate with designers and apply product design principles to products using new materials emerging from state-of-the-art research. The approaches used include design knowledge repositories to routinely capture design information, design led demand for new manufacturing technologies, knowledge elicitation and requirements engineering.

Design and manufacture are linked at every level. Each decision we make in design has fundamental consequences for manufacturing processes as well as the infrastructure for product use and associated lifecycle.

There can however be a gulf between design propositions and integrated robust production and infrastructure requirements. We are implementing and developing procedures based on:

  • functional analysis diagrams;
  • decision rationale using issue based information systems;
  • integrated methods for specification that invoke the voice of the customer as well as that of the engineering and design and company team to address new propositions;
  • resource efficient manufacture through design rationale;
  • idea to reality generative tools.

The Design Engineering Group specialises in realising its developments through algorithms and software plugins that can be integrated within an OEM’s standard platform for company-wide implementation. The Design Engineering Group at Imperial has developed significant links with the aerospace, medical, energy, transport, product design and architectural industries.

Design Engineering Group Focus Areas:

  • Creativity tools, their development and use in industry (applied to large corporations and SMEs)
  • Ideas to reality (strategies and their validation to take ideas to implementation)
  • Decision rationale/design rationale
  • Emotion and design
  • Functional analysis as a tool for mechanism design
  • Morphological analysis and systematic design
  • Creativity engine (use of tools to augment creativity and design embodiment)
  • Hybrid PVT solar technologies
  • Use of robotic devices to implement retrofit treatments for a sustainable housing stock
  • Eco-community design
  • Resource efficient manufacture
  • Functional modelling for complex systems
  • System requirement capture and analysis
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) systems
  • Medical instrument design
  • Management & control of distributed energy resources