Design Space Exploration of a Jet Engine Component Using a Combined Object Model for Function and Geometry
Jakob R. Müller, Massimo Panarotto, Ola Isaksson
The design of aircraft and engine components hinges on the use of computer aided design (CAD) models and the subsequent geometry-based analyses for evaluation of the quality of a concept. However, the generation (and variation) of CAD models to include radical or novel design solutions is a resource intense modelling effort. While approaches to automate the generation and variation of CAD models exist, they neglect the capture and representation of the product's design rationale—what the
... is supposed to do. The design space exploration approach Function and Geometry Exploration (FGE) aims to support the exploration of more functionally and geometrically different product concepts under consideration of not only geometrical, but also teleological aspects. The FGE approach has been presented and verified in a previous presentation. However, in order to contribute to engineering design practice, a design method needs to be validated through application in industrial practice. Hence, this publication reports from a study where the FGE approach has been applied by a design team of a Swedish aerospace manufacturers in a conceptual product development project. Conceptually different alternatives were identified in order to meet the expected functionality of a guide vane (GV). The FGE was introduced and applied in a series of workshops. Data was collected through participatory observation in the design teams by the researchers, as well as interviews and questionnaires. The results reveal the potential of the FGE approach as a design support to: (1) Represent and capture the design rationale and the design space; (2) capture, integrate and model novel solutions; and (3) provide support for the embodiment of novel concepts that would otherwise remain unexplored. In conclusion, the FGE method supports designers to articulate and link the design rationale, including functional requirements and alternative solutions, to geometrical features of the product concepts. The method supports the exploration of alternative solutions as well as functions. However, scalability and robustness of the generated CAD models remain subject to further research.