Open Issues in Design Informatics

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In the past 50 years, digital technologies have transformed many aspects of our lives, especially our engineered products and systems. They continue to be an area of enormous interest as we consider the potential of cyber-physical systems, ‘Big Data’ and the Internet of Things. Digital technologies have also become deeply embedded in the processes by which we design and develop products and systems. Information is the lifeblood of design, and thus design informatics - the application of information technologies in design – has been a central focus in design research for many years. This paper considers the evolution of design informatics over the past 40 or so years and makes suggestions for the challenges that should be addressed as we move into the next phase of digitalisation.A central message of the paper is that we have always had very high ambitions for our computational tools, but these ambitious have not always been realised, at least not in the way we imagined they might be. What can we learn from the successes and failures of the past that might inform the choices we make in the future? As an example of the ambitions for our tools in the past, in 1982 Requicha and Voelcker wrote that “an informationally complete [geometric] representation would permit (at least in principle) any well-defined geometric property of any represented solid to be calculated automatically” (1), envisioning integration and automation of design tools around a geometric model. Today, in Industry 4.0 we envisage computer-based Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) as “a central source for all data regarding a product, from the initial idea and production to sales and marketing” (2) and we consider that we are close to achieving “digital twins” for example that are “ultrarealistic in geometric detail, including manufacturing anomalies, and in material detail, including the statistical microstructure level” (3). How well were Requicha and Voelcker’s ambitions realised and how close are we to achieving today’s goals?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Methods & Tools for CAE - concepts and applications 2017
EditorsJerzy Pokojski , Robert Zalewski
Number of pages6
PublisherInstitute of Machine Design Fundamentals
Publication date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventMethods & Tools for CAE - concepts and applications
- Biesko-Biała, Poland
Duration: 18 Oct 201720 Oct 2017


ConferenceMethods & Tools for CAE - concepts and applications

Cite this

McMahon, C. A. (2017). Open Issues in Design Informatics. In J. Pokojski , & R. Zalewski (Eds.), Proceedings of the Methods & Tools for CAE - concepts and applications 2017 Institute of Machine Design Fundamentals.