User Driven Custom Design - the solution to simplify customisation according to consumer needs

Open Access
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Luca RizziSarah De CristofaroAntonio Zingarofalo

Abstract: IntroductionThe objective of this study was to define a new approach for product design and customization. The approach focused on the development of several technical components able to provide product personalisation as an integrated solution to simplify the interactions between the end-user and the producer. The solution was developed as a web platform for an easy configuration of the product by the user at home and applied to a wheelchair. The finalization of a new order and the assembly procedure of the product is fully digital. This research activity is funded by the EU Project n. 872570 “KYKLOS 4.0 - An Advanced Circular and Agile Manufacturing Ecosystem based on rapid reconfigurable manufacturing process and individualized consumer preferences” (H2020-DT-2018-2020 - Digitising and transforming European industry and services: digital innovation hubs and platforms) which aims at simplifying mass customization while improving circularity and sustainability.MethodsOur Product Parametric Design Methodology was developed through a specific ergonomic analysis of products related to human factors and anthropometry. The use of virtual manikins and simulation of different percentiles, allowed to test and better define correct inputs and parameters for product customization. The solution has been developed and applied to a medical use case and validated and integrated in the KYKLOS 4.0 main platform. The aim was to provide a coherent user experience for the wheelchair ordering and customization, so the user can easily select wheelchair frame and mandatory parts, optional accessories and customize additional elements such as the cushion and footrest. Several Technical Component were developed in order to guarantee the final workflow. The methodology was applied into our “Recommendation Engine” and integrated with the “Users' Behaviour Model”, which use patient’s information, such as anthropometry and behaviour to better define best fitting products and accessories. Additionally, the workflow integrated a specifically designed “3D Modelling Component” which allows direct parts customization.ResultsThe Product Personalization Solution was intended to support the customer in the selection of parts and accessories to fully customize the product and, at the same time, also to support product designer to convert customers’ requests efficiently and smoothly into personalized product specifications, thus providing a complete customer-oriented design for manufacturing with time and cost reduction. The methodology can be considered part of what is called "ECO-DESIGN," which is the design of products based on the sustainable and minimal use of resources and which enables high-quality recycling of materials at the end of the product life cycle. The use of the circular economy concept adopted in the specific pilot case is certainly relevant to the production of customized components for the wheelchair provided by our end-user, as the production of customized components allows a reduction in the resources required to produce parts. Moreover, since these are products that are perfectly compatible with the end user's needs, the possibility of having returned products (when components does not meet patient's needs) or unused products is considerably reduced, resulting in waste of materials used. Within this specific Use Case the customization of the wheelchair frame and accessories, based on the user's anthropometry, allows the reduction of unnecessary machining such as, for example, unused holes for ergonomic adaptation. It also turns out to be reduced waste production of aluminium tubulars resulting in reduced processing time and harmful emissions released into the environment.ConclusionAlthough the solution has been applied for demonstration purposes to the personalization of a wheelchair, it is exploitable to other products where personalization based on anthropometric measurements is essential for maximizing patient comfort and reduce production errors and waste. The addressed medical case study highlighted some very interesting aspects concerning the replication and scale up potential in the medical domain. The methodology based on anthropometry to define product requirements can also be applied very effectively to a variety of other products. Some application cases already exist in fashion for clothes and accessories size selection. Furniture products such as chairs, desks and wardrobes can also be customized using the same approach. We also believe that sport equipment has a high potential for such application. The automation of this process and the direct relationship with the user's dimensions could open potential markets currently reserved only to very expensive bicycle frames. Also, the production of accessories and tool, made with additive manufacturing technologies, could lead to disruptive innovation in those sectors providing true mass customization capabilities.

Keywords: Custom design, Parametric Modelling, Virtual Manikin, Anthropometric measure, Agile Manufacturing

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1003590

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