Using the field flow design methodology to create safe consumer products

Scott Laughlin, Valtteri Niutanen, Robert Stone, Kevin Otto

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Energy powered devices often contain sufficient energy levels to require safety considerations. These are typically addressed in latter design phases through failure and safety assessments and mitigation strategies, after the concept is determined and design freedom is restricted. We introduce here an approach to consider safety in the early, initial conceptual design phases. We do this by considering the energy and material flow fields necessary for a design concept, and the effects these fields have. With this understanding, partitioning metrics can produce relative field layouts that can be used as a basis for new product concepts. The objective is to reduce user injury and material waste. Relative field layouts are generated by partitioning a product into its constituent fields and assigning values to them according to safety risk and relative connectivity. Then a layout is computed to provide necessary connectivity but also to reduce human interaction with high safety concern fields. A function structure layout can then be more readily developed from the field connectivity layout. The approach computes and presents the engineer with a field template for the product. This prevents internal product modules from dangerously combining high value fields with low value fields, which can thereby reduce exposure of the user to danger.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication30th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780791851845
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventInternational Conference on Design Theory and Methodology - Quebec City, Canada
Duration: 26 Aug 201829 Aug 2018
Conference number: 30


ConferenceInternational Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
CityQuebec City

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