the following research themes are ongoing within our Chair. An assignment for one of these themes is a possibility for your thesis assignment.
Management of product development
The quality of product development relies on a thorough understanding and mastery of the processes and information playing a role. For instance the relations between design methods and methodologies, knowledge and information management, life-cycle engineering and design(er) support are defining. From different application areas (like decentral/networked manufacturing, virtual reality, knowledge-based design and packaging development) this research focuses on generic methods to improve product development processes.
The use of virtual reality in a (product) development process offers new possibilities to improve interdisciplinary communication, stimulate cooperation and advance concept testing. In this way fast insights into the design choice consequences, e.g. on the interaction between product and user, can be obtained. The challenge is often to introduce and implement new techniques into (existing) processes.
Synthesis based engineering tools
Computers can solve design problems. The new-generation CAD software generates many possible solutions and designers choose the best candidate(s). This approach shortens the design process and increases the design quality.
Physics in design
Multidisciplinary design can be improved by a thorough understanding of the underlying physics. Innovative technologies are developed by mapping physical phenomena (knowledge acquisition). This knowledge is subsequently transformed into design knowledge and integrated into possible realization principles. For example, thermal management solutions through two-phase heat transfer principles or a no-moving-parts pump through heat injection.
Lean design engineering
As today's consumer markets have become both more difficult to satisfy and more susceptible to rapid changes, effective design engineering methods are required to balance the search for innovative solutions with very a short time to market in order to keep a competitive edge. In this context, lean design engineering researches how existing concepts from lean manufacturing can be implemented into a design environment and the development of new tools to achieve the same effect: reduction of waste.
For complex products (like airplanes, medical equipment and ships) insight and oversight at all design levels is imperative. This requires both knowledge of technical details as well as comprehension of the complex coherence. Focus area in this research is facilitating knowledge communication between the different disciplines. Also, the question how system thinking leads to a better design is studied.
Supporting sustainable design
Sustainable life cycles and sustainable energy are becoming more important in the framework of the circular economy. This applies to existing and new products entering the market. To facilitate sustainable product development in this area, it is important to gain insight into design and analysis tools, materials, logistics and alternative (functional) solutions. Projects focus on design methods and/or sustainable product-service combinations.
Additive manufacturing (3D printen)
Additive fabrication methods are increasingly seen as full-fledged production techniques for the part fabrication of e.g. medical applications, consumer products and directly printed electronic components. Within and outside the UT research is done into printing of metals, ceramics and (fiber reinforced) plastics. Furthermore multimaterial printing, design for additive manufacturing and printing of micro pumps for space application are major topics. New printing techniques are researched and developed continuously.