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Author: Klett, Jan.
Supervisor: Meyer, H. J., Blessing, L., Birkenhofer, H. & Seliger, G.
Institution: Technische Universität Berlin
The subject of this dissertation is the design process of connections, i.e. the selection of existing and the generation of novel connections. Even though connections are responsible for the reliability and the attractiveness as well as for the assembly and disassembly costs of a product, approaches for designing connections are not established yet.
A study of the literature indicates that the available approaches only consider existing connections and do not support the generation of novel ones. Further more, literature indicates that neither these approaches nor the existing schemes for classifying connections sufficiently consider assembly and disassembly processes.
To improve this situation the dissertation has two aims. The first aim is to represent connections such that designers can consider the assembly and disassembly related properties and the corresponding connection characteristics. This leads to the first research question of how the solution space of connections can be represented in order to fulfil this first aim. The second aim is to develop an approach which supports designers in designing connections without the necessity to consider dimensions yet. The related research question is whether the developed approach indeed supports designers.
The first research question is answered by allocating assembly and disassembly related properties to connection characteristics and by representing the solution space of these characteristics. This involves the introduction of ‘connection principles’ that focus on the possible geometries of connections. The results address the first aim in the form of a new connection classification scheme. The results also form the basis for the development of SYCONDE, a systematic approach for designing connections, consisting of a workbook, a set of documentation forms and leaflets with supportive information.
The second research question is addressed by an evaluation of SYCONDE in a design experiment involving ten mechanical engineering students and PhD-students. All were given the same design task to solve. Five participants used SYCONDE (the experimental group) and five did not use SYCONDE (the control group). The experiment showed that, compared to the participants in the control group, the participants in the experimental group performed more activities which were defined as important for designing connections, less frequently repeated some of these activities, considered more solution variants of some connection characteristics, and perceived to a higher level that the solution path is clearly structured and that the considered solution space is large.