Product designers seek to create products that are not only robust for the current marketplace but also can be redesigned quickly and inexpensively for future changes that may be unanticipated. The capability of a design to be quickly and economically redesigned into a subsequent product offering is defined as its flexibility for future evolution. Tools are needed for innovating and evaluating products that are flexible for future evolution. In this paper, a comprehensive set of design guidelines is created for product flexibility by merging the results of two research studies—a directed patent study of notably flexible products and an empirical product study of consumer products analyzed with a product flexibility metric. Via comparison of the results of these two studies, the product flexibility guidelines derived from each study are merged, cross-validated, and revised for clarity. They are organized in categories that describe how and under what circumstances they increase flexibility for future evolution. Examples are included to illustrate each guideline. The guidelines are also applied to an example application—the design of a new guitar string changer.

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