Design Structure Matrix (DSM) is known as an efficient tool to modularize product architectures. It is only effective when all the matrix elements are described with a similar level of abstraction. This lies generally in the level of the real existing components. In order to implement a DSM, all assemblies, components and their relations have to be defined beforehand. In this step, the product architecture is often developed intuitively without any analysis. After the analysis using DSM, the developed product architecture normally requires rectification. Some components have to be designed and modified repeatedly. In this paper, the model for describing the relationship between function and embodiment, the Contact and Channel Model (C&CM) as well as an approach and its implementation will be presented to avoid this repetition. After a principle solution has been selected, the system is modeled with C&CM elements in a new intermediate level of abstraction. An integration analysis by DSM can be performed in parallel with the use of a search algorithm to find the modular product architecture. The analysis result is a guideline for a modular architecture which helps designers to reduce the number of required iterations. This approach is implemented in the development of a robot forearm for the humanoid robot ARMAR III.

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