Supporting product architecture design using computational design synthesis with network structure constraints

David F. Wyatt*, David C. Wynn, Jerome P. Jarrett, P. John Clarkson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


A product's architecture can affect many aspects of product and process quality, from technical performance to the design effort required, production costs and satisfaction of later lifecycle requirements. This paper explores how computational tools can augment creative methods in product architecture design. Based on an empirical study aiming to understand the context of product architecture design, a new computational method is proposed to support this activity. In the method, product architectures-networks of components linked by connections- can be synthesised using constraints on the structure of the network to define the set of 'realisable' architectures for a product. An example illustrates how the method might be used on a real design problem, including the construction of an appropriate set of network structure constraints and the identification of promising architectures from the synthesis results. Preliminary evaluation of the method's usability, assessed through a laboratory experiment, and its utility, assessed through application to a real historical design problem, supported by initial validation by an engineer from the case study company, suggests that the method has value for engineering design practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-52
Number of pages36
JournalResearch in Engineering Design
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cambridge advanced modeller (CAM)
  • Computational design synthesis
  • Conceptual design
  • Design support method
  • Network structure constraints
  • Product architecture


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