In this work, a simple method is presented, assisting engineering designers in dealing with innovative technologies during the conceptual phase of engineering design. The technique emphasises on determining Critical Design Issues, as well as evaluating new technologies early on in order to define a Critical Design Path. Since time and budget constraints often demand prompt design decisions, a systematic, easy-to-follow concept analysis and evaluation framework is introduced, allowing engineers to quickly identify critical design issues. The proposed method is demonstrated using the conceptual development of an innovative positive displacement device as a case study. The study indicates that, particularly in absence of essential knowledge within early development stages, experimental design can provide a cost effective method of identifying potential design problems, and thus, reducing design iterations, development time and risk, as long as a suitable design process is also in place. The evaluation of potential design solutions can be achieved by conceptual prototypes, which may represent a specific critical technology, or embody initial ideas to quickly gain knowledge that is crucial for the development of new design concepts. This allows the designer to reduce intuition and guesswork, whilst detecting unanticipated effects and phenomena, delivering deeper insight and communicating ideas. The method proved to be a significant tool for rapid and goal-oriented conceptual design. Through the proliferation of recent prototyping technologies, along with a reduction of design iterations, the concepts could be developed and verified on a low budget over a short development time.

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