Although design novelty is a critical area of research in engineering design, most research in this space has focused on understanding and developing formal idea generation methods instead of focusing on the impact of current design practices. This is problematic because formal techniques are often not adopted in industry due to the burdensome steps often included in these methods, which limit the practicality and adoption of these methods. This study seeks to understand the impact of product dissection, a design method widely utilized in academia and industry, on design novelty in order to produce recommendations for the use or alterations of this method for supporting novelty in design. To investigate the impact of dissection, a study was conducted with 76 engineering students who completed a team-based dissection of an electric toothbrush and then individually generated ideas. The relationships between involvement in the dissection activity, the product dissected, the novelty and quantity of the ideas developed were investigated. The results reveal that team members who were more involved in the dissection activity generated concepts that were more novel than those who did not. In addition, the type of the dissected product also had an influence on design novelty. Finally, a positive correlation between the number of ideas generated and the novelty of the design concepts was identified. The results from this study are used to provide recommendations for leveraging product dissection for enhancing novelty in engineering design education and practice.

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