This is a position paper.

Although modular design is getting wide attention these days, most of the discussions and applications are focused on efficiency, cost reduction, etc., which has been regarded important in the traditional product development or in the producer’s framework. Their focus is how they can prepare wider variety with less time, money and energy. They believe if a wide variety of products are offered. the customer would select the one that would fit them best.

Thus, not too much attention is paid to the customer expectations. The current producer do not sell dreams. They just increases the choices. This can be compared to what animals are doing. Animals can use tools, but these tools are found in nature. Animals do not make tools, but humans do, because humans can see the future, while animals cannot. Engineering is an activity to satisfy customer dreams. In this sense, the current industry is not achieving what engineering is supposed to achieve.

In addition, as human needs step up, humans would like to actualize themselves. But in the earlier or lower step, their needs are products so products satisfy them. But when they step more and more upward, they find value in the processes. So products alone will not satisfy them enough. They would like to make their dreams come true by themselves.

Thus, how we can get customers involved in the production becomes important. In short, we have to consider how we can mix high tech and low tech and work them harmoniously. Some modules needs high tech. Thus expertise is needed. But others can be developed and produced by customers.

Then, customers will be very happy because they are players in the game and they feel they themselves are developing a product to realize their own dream. Of course, personal fabrication technology can be used for this purpose. But theirs and my idea are basically different. Their idea is to produce a product by ourselves. But the approach proposed here is focused on our industrial products. The issue here is how we can bring our customers into our product development, which current industries are practicing. If we can design a product, which is composed of modules which needs high tech and expertise and those which can be produced with low tech, then we can bring our customers into low tech and low expertise module production. Although customers are not producing the whole product, they feel happier because they are now making their dream come true themselves. Thus, industries can sell processes. And it should be stressed that this is not a reconfigurable design. The low tech and low expertise modules are really produced by our customers. They do not select modules to produce a product as we do with Lego.

This design of mixture of low tech module and high tech module serves for globalization as well. Some developing countries cannot produce high tech modules, because their resources are not enough. But if some modules can be produced with low tech, then they can produce them locally and that will increase employment and the market will expand.

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