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Design by Analogy: A Case Study

Hadeya , Namariq, Marwan, Huda


College of Engineering
United Arab Emirates University

1.0 Introduction

Analogy defined as the process of connotation between situations from one source to another
target made possible through the formation of relationships or representations. Designs are said to be
analogous if they have at least one function or behavior in common. They do not necessarily have
similar structures. Association of analogy procedures support new inferences and understanding of
problems. In fact, various examples of innovative systems and products established from analogies
are found in the market. Design-by-Analogy is a field where designers identify and develop
examples, related cases and scenarios, and connected experiences to solve design problems. It is a
powerful tool in ideation and in knowledge areas like engineering design. Various design by analogy
methods have been developed, and the sources of similar inspirations range from answering direct
questions that allow exploration of analogical sorts, being inspired by the surrounded natural world,
creating biomimetic and bioinspired concepts, coming up with analogous solutions from abstractions
of functional models and flows, and discovering analogous areas by re-representation of design
problem and semantic mappings. Recent developments in Design-by-Analogy ideation methods
include the development of analogical search engines in order to identify possible analogies from
digital sources and databases. One of the approaches converts a design problem into a functional
representation and then searches databases with the use of a mapped functional basis to identify
domain analogies for designers.

2.0 Literature Survey

An analogy is a detailed type of likelihood, and similarities can be classified into three
groups: attributional similarity, relational similarity, and literal similarity (Verhaegen, P., D’hondt,
J., Vandevenne, D., Dewulf, S., & Duflou, J. R.). Attributional similarity can also be referred to as
surface similarity and states the extent of similarity in attributes between words. Attributes are
defined as features that offers descriptive information. For example, the pen is sharp or the color of
the pen is red. There are two types of attributional similarity. The first is associated with words that
are related by regular connotation like the pencil and paper. The second is similar and consists of
associated words which are more related to each other. The relational similarity identifies the extent

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of similarity in the relationship between individual parts involving the two concepts. In fact, it is the
type of similarity that is called an analogy. Finally, an analogy that shows a great amount of
attributional similarity amongst different objects of the two concepts is known as a literal similarity.
Similarity can be interpreted as the association between two products based on specific common
features of the products, common relations between individual parts of the products, or common
functionality (Verhaegen, P., D’hondt, J., Vandevenne, D., Dewulf, S., & Duflou, J. R.).

Products designed by finding solutions from other products in the same field are called within
domain design-by analogy. While products designed by finding solutions from other areas are called
cross-domain or between domain design-by-analogy. Within domain design-by-analogy suggests a
certain level of attributional similarity. On the other hand, cross-domain design-by-analogy is
considered as little or no attributional similarity. Therefore it is mapped to the relational similarity.
All other types of analogy involve a higher amount of attributional similarity and are considered
within domain design-by-analogy.

New methods were experimentally tested for extracting functional analogies from patent databases to
help designers in looking for and finding analogies. Certain approaches searched produce
significantly enhanced results on the novelty of solutions found and no change in the quantity of
solutions (Fu, K., Murphy, J., Yang, M., Otto, K., Jensen, D., & Wood, K.). The suggested design-
by-analogy facilitation practice uses a functional vector space representation to compute the
functional similarity between embodied design problems and descriptions of products. Mapping of
patents into functional equivalent words assists in the generation of functionally related ideas. In fact,
the approach delivers functionally applicable sources of design by analogy to inspire designer.

A search engine called the functional vector space model-based (VSM) analogy was developed. The
process starts with building a precise and converged terminology of functions taken from a database.
The approach offers an abstraction mechanism for analogies that is probably already an engineering
designer is accustomed to (Fu, K., Murphy, J., Yang, M., Otto, K., Jensen, D., & Wood, K.). The
documents are indexed against the functions and sorted by the functional basis. This generates a
vector representation of the patent database relying on functions. In order to retrieve the patents with
the highest degree of applicability to the functional description of a given design problem, query
generation and similarity ranking tools are used.

Fu, K., Murphy, J., Yang, M., Otto, K., Jensen, D., and Wood, K. tests if the approach develops the
ideation result as measured by novelty or quantity of ideas. The experiment presented in their paper
studies the efficiency of the databased functional analogy search engine for enhancing concept

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generation methods and their outcomes. Functionality level is defined as the number of sub-
functions of the design problem that are addressed by the analogical stimuli, either from 1, 2, or 7
(all) subfunctions, with a control condition that receives no analogical stimuli. The experiment
resulted in gathered several important realizations. First, analogical patents recognized by the patent-
based functional analogy search engine have no impact on the number of unique ideas generated.
Second, the significant augmented average novelty of ideas for the high functionality level analogy
group is noted.

3.0 The Case study

The design process started with a design brief shown in the following table, which outlined ‘what the
product is’:

DESIGN BRIEF OF A STAND TO SUPPORT COMPONENTS ON THE DISPLAY

Drafted by Dr Sangarappillai Sivaloganathan

A stand reflecting the core capabilities of the precision company


Product Description to carry and exhibit a high value added component/product
placed in a display unit.

It should have a flat surface at the top to place the exhibit. The
Product Concept control volume for the stand is about 150mm × 150 mm ×
50 mm.

1. Reflect the company’s core strengths

Benefits to be delivered 2. High class

3. Relating to the local culture

Target cost is around 1000 AED. The product is not for sale in
Positioning & Target Price
the market.

Target Market N/A

Assumptions, and Constraints


Concepts have to be generated using design by analogy.
and standards

The company
Stakeholders
The design team

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Possible Features and Attributes -

The shape of the flat portion and the base to reflect the core
Possible area for Innovation
strengths.

Table1: Design brief

The following table shows the customer requirements, the metrics that have been extracted from
those requirements and the target specifications:

Need Metric Marginal


unit Ideal value
value

the product is easily Force to move the


Low,M,H Low Low
movable product

Light weight Total weight Between


Kg <1.5
0.8-1.2

Luxurious top of the range price


AED <200 150
product

The height of the stand is Display height


Meter 50-150 50
adequate

The product is stable and in Stability Stable,


m/s2 stable
balance unstable

The stand is attractive and Good looking


Pass/fail Pass, fail Pass
elegant

The product is made up of Reference list of coating


cleanable material and materials List Steel, wood Steel
surfaces

The product is made up of lifespan


Years >3 5
durable material

Minimum foot space Length and width Length, width, 1501505


mm
dimension height < 200 0

Table 2: Customer Requirements and metrics

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The following figure represents a function tree showing the expected functions of the product:

3.1 Conceptual Design

Conceptual design is a combination of function providers to be set in a smart right order (scheme)
and in a homogeneous way to develop a new product. Conceptual design has many designs methods,
one of them is design by analogy. Design by analogy can be defined as a similarity between similar
features of two things, on which a comparison can be based.

3.1.1 Established KPDs

The team concepts consist of parts that represent the schematic structure of the design. The concepts
were established on analogy to a palm tree. In order to ensure the implementation of the company's
core capabilities the team decided to create the design based on design and prototype a palm model
by welding four parts; Circular trunk base, column (palm trunk), and leaves.

3.1.2 The Mapping

The palm tree consists of trunk base, trunk and the leaves. The palm represents rest, hospitality,
strength and the capacity which reflect the local culture that is used in the design and prototype. The
mapping is as follows; the base trunk will reflect the strength of our resources and people also it will
reflect the solid structure of the company. The trunk (stem) it will link between the power root of the
resources and the local culture. The platform which is add on top of the stem to reflect and present
the local culture and the leaves will represent the company’s five aspect.

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3.1.2 The Design

The team concepts consist of parts that represent the schematic structure of the design. The concepts
were established on analogy to a palm tree. In order to ensure the implementation of the company's
core capabilities the team decided to create the design based on design and prototype a palm model
by welding four parts; Circular trunk base, column (palm trunk), and leaves.

3.2 Established Concepts

Concept A

The first part of the Concept A structure is a circular base. The base of the trunk holds, supports and
ensures stability of the whole structure. Then, a column (Palm trunk) is added to demonstrate palm
trunk and hold the circular flat plate above. The flat plate offers the main purpose of the structure and
contains the luxurious products within. And finally, the leaves will be added and originate from
originate from the sides of the plate. They provide an aesthetic appearance to the structure and reflect
the cultural aspect of the structure and the company.

Concept B

The first part of the Concept B structure is a circular base. The base of the trunk holds, supports and
ensures stability of the whole structure. Then, a column (Palm trunk) is added to demonstrate palm
trunk and hold the circular flat plate above. The flat plate offers the main purpose of the structure and
contains the luxurious products within. Concept B's structure consists of the same parts of Concept
A. However, the leaves originate from the above end of the palm trunk and below the plate.

Concept C

The first part of the Concept C structure is a circular base. The base of the trunk holds, supports and
ensures stability of the whole structure. Then, a column (Palm trunk) is added to demonstrate palm
trunk and hold the circular flat plate above. Concept C design is different from the above concepts in
that the plate is not flat. In fact, the plate is designed with more depth plate. Even though the plate is
different, it still provides the same purpose of containing luxurious products within. The leaves
design is similar to Concept B design in that they originate from the above end of the palm trunk and
below the plate.

Concept D

The first part of the Concept D structure is a circular base. The base of the trunk holds, supports and
ensures stability of the whole structure. Then, a column (Palm trunk) is added to demonstrate palm
trunk and hold the circular flat plate above. Concept D design is somehow similar to Concept C in
that the plate is not flat. In fact, the plate is designed with more depth plate. Even though the plate is
different, it still provides the same purpose of containing luxurious products within. The leaves
design in concept D is different. They are made to be originated from the middle side of the plate.

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3.2Criteria Establishment and Concept Selection

The team has chosen Reliability, Cost, Appearance, Portability, Ease of Manufacturing, Stability and
Ease of cleaning as criteria for evaluating and selecting a concept Then, the concepts were evaluated
using two progressive methods:

 Pugh’s Matrix for concepts evaluation.


 The Decision Matrix for choosing the concept

From the Pugh's matrix, the team decided that for the next round of evaluation in order to choose the
best concept should be among A and B. On the other hand, from the decision matrix method, and
after calculating the relative weight for each criteria the best method chosen was Concept A.

3.3 Embodiment Design

The team has started by listing the product’s embodiment-determining requirements as categorized
below referring to the customer requirements collected earlier:

Size-determining Arrangement- Material-determining Other requirements


requirements determining requirements
requirements
The stand must be Maintains balance and Can be easily cleaned Attractive and elegant
about 50 mm in height. stability (design features
Durable
The stand must fit The stand should be Top of the luxury
within a space of easily seen by audience Easy to carry and move range (price)
150×150×150 mm around
product should serve at
The stand is made from least 3 years
Aluminum.
The product should be
safe to use with no
sharp edges

3.4 Completed Product

Preliminary layout of the product with initial dimensions is shown in Figure **** below.

4.0 Analysis and Discussion

The design brief was introduced to the team by the professor of this course. Customer
verbatim was collected and translated into customer's needs. After that, the functional model was
proposed and analyzed. Function tree was created, metrics have been extracted from customer

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requirements and target specifications have been set. Inspired by the surrounded natural world, the
design problem was solved by design by analogy approach and the concept was linked to a palm tree.
Various concepts have been developed with the purpose of implementing the company's core
capabilities (design, re-build and prototype). The concepts were evaluated and Concept A was
defined to best meet the criteria identified. After concept selection, the physical form of the model
was created. The elements for manufacturing were chosen and specified. The palm tree model was
manufactured by welding four parts; Circular trunk base, column (palm trunk), and leaves. A
detailed 2D and 3D drawing for the product was demonstrated using CAD software. The center of
gravity was identified as ** and the topping torque was **.

5.0 Conclusions

This project was useful for the team as it enhanced their understanding of the systematic design
approach and the design by analogy method. They have also developed knowledge and skills in
reading and understanding the design brief, identifying the target customers, extracting products
specifications based on the collected customer's requirements. And finally, the team has learned to
generate different concepts design, evaluate them and decide on the most suitable and feasible one.

References:

Verhaegen, P., D’hondt, J., Vandevenne, D., Dewulf, S., & Duflou, J. R. (2011). Identifying
candidates for design-by-analogy. Computers in Industry, 62(4), 446-459.
doi:10.1016/j.compind.2010.12.007

Moreno, D. P., Blessing, L. T., Yang, M. C., Hernández, A. A., & Wood, K. L. (2016). Overcoming
design fixation: Design by analogy studies and nonintuitive findings. Artificial Intelligence for
Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing : AI EDAM, 30(2), 185.
doi:10.1017/S0890060416000068

Fu, K., Murphy, J., Yang, M., Otto, K., Jensen, D., & Wood, K. (2015). Design-by-analogy:
Experimental evaluation of a functional analogy search methodology for concept generation
improvement. Research in Engineering Design, 26(1), 77-95. doi:10.1007/s00163-014-0186-4

Moreno, D. P., Hernandez, A. A., Yang, M. C., Otto, K. N., Holtta-Otto, K., Linsey, J. S., . . .
Linden, A. (2014). Fundamental studies in design-by-analogy: A focus on domain-knowledge
experts and applications to transactional design problems. Design Studies, 35(3), 232-272.
doi:10.1016/j.destud.2013.11.002

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Murphy, J., Fu, K., Otto, K., Yang, M., Jensen, D., & Wood, K. (2014). Function based design-by-
analogy: A functional vector approach to analogical search. Journal of Mechanical Design, 136(10),
101102. doi:10.1115/1.4028093