This paper describes a design strategy for mechanical systems called clumping and its effect on product value during the ownership and retirement phases of its life-cycle. A “clump” is a collection of components and/or subassemblies that share a physical relationship and some common characteristic based upon user intent. Clumping for product ownership values, i.e. reliability and serviceability, aims to increase component accessibility. Clumping for product retirement issues, i.e. reuse, recycling, and disposal, seeks to form aggregations of components for material compatibility, thus decreasing disassembly cost. This paper gives a detailed description of life-cycle ownership and retirement assessment methods and how they can be adapted into an existing computer-based design aid. A refrigerator in-door ice dispenser serves as an illustrative example.

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