The design of most engineering artefacts is based on that of previous artefacts of the same type. Indeed, in much of engineering, effort is concentrated on the development of broadly standard design patterns — consider for example the design of buildings, bridges, electrical equipment, production machines, engines and vehicles of all descriptions. Engineering knowledge develops through innovation and experiment in design, and through research, development and test programmes. Given that much product development occurs in such patterns, engineering organisations need guidelines concerning the size, frequency and direction of the changes that develop the design. Such guidelines will allow organisations to judge where to devote research and development effort, and when to adopt more or less radical product design strategies. Knowledge of the likely areas in which product development will be most dynamic mill also allow an organisation to choose the level of design support and automation that may be possible though computer-aided design tools. This paper mill address each of these issues by presenting a consideration of the ways that new designs are created and then how design information and knowledge can be considered and handled to support these stages. This paper is based on an analysis of work from across the globe to enable a view of the relationship between these issues.

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