Design changes and change propagation have been recognised as ubiquitous in the engineering design process. But why are some design changes propagated while others are absorbed? This paper reports on a study to investigate the specific properties of a mechanical design that influence whether a change is either propagated or absorbed. Student participants in the study were asked to complete a well-defined mechanical design task and then to introduce several design changes. Analysis of the recorded design processes reveals new insight into the mechanisms of change propagation in terms of properties of the design. The insights suggest avenues for future research to make designs more tolerant to potential future change and to develop improved methods to predict change propagation.