A CAD Tool to Support Idea Generation in the Product Planning Phase
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CAD tools provide an essential aid to designers in New Product Development (NPD) processes by accelerating and easing activities that required consistent time resources decades ago. At the same time, the scientific community claims advantages with respect to the integration of all the phases of the design process. More specifically, research efforts have been addressed to link the activities pertaining to the front end, i.e. Product Planning and Conceptual Design, and the back end, i.e. Embodiment Design and Detailed Design. The diffusion of CAD instruments to support the latter represents a way with no turning back in the industrial world. Hence, any integration of all design phases cannot disregard the employment of computer platforms. Unfortunately, the integration is slowed down by the difficulty of identifying repeatable patterns (translatable in algorithms) in front end phases. Indeed, it is widely acknowledged in the literature that these phases typically involve random process and “ad hoc” decisions based on intuition, observations, discussions or accidents. This is why the term “Fuzzy Front End” (FFE) has been coined to describe the earlier phases of the design process. Besides, the lack of replicable actions to perform the FFE ranges among the causes of products’ commercial failure.