Contact and channel modelling to support the early design of technical systems
The early design of mechanical systems is critical because it constrains options later in the design process. In this early stage of the design process, designers must consider customer requirements, how they are related to system functionality and how these requirements and functions are implemented in the physical interactions between components and sub-systems. This paper proposes an approach by which the Contact and Channel Model (C&CM) can be applied to support this stage of embodiment design. The proposed approach is implemented in a computer support tool and illustrated through a simple example. A number of opportunities for further work to extend and evaluate the approach are identified. We argue that our approach offers a unique way to consider the functionality of a design alongside the parts, surfaces and physical effects which embody that functionality, and provides an intuitive representation which could help designers iteratively develop and express this relationship.