Technical Brief

How Function Ordering Within Morphological Charts Influence Exploration1

[+] Author and Article Information
Anant Chawla

Technology Department,
Caesarstone Technologies USA,
Midway, GA 31320
e-mail: anant.chawla@caesarstone.com

Joshua D. Summers

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Clemson University,
Clemson, SC 29634-0921
e-mail: jsummer@clemson.edu

Contributed by the Design Theory and Methodology Committee of ASME for publication in the Journal of Mechanical Design. Manuscript received June 30, 2018; final manuscript received May 22, 2019; published online July 19, 2019. Assoc. Editor: Tahira Reid.

J. Mech. Des 141(9), 094502 (Jul 19, 2019) (7 pages) Paper No: MD-18-1518; doi: 10.1115/1.4043929 History: Received June 30, 2018; Accepted May 29, 2019

Although morphological charts are widely taught used tools in engineering design, little formal guidance is provided regarding their representation and exploration. Thus, an experiment was conducted to elucidate the influence of functional ordering on the exploration of morphological charts. Two design prompts were used, each with five different functional arrangements: (1) most-to-least important function, (2) least-to-most important function, (3) input-to-output function, (4) output-to-input function, and (5) Random. Sixty-seven junior mechanical engineering students were asked to generate integrated design concepts from prepopulated morphological charts for each design prompt. The concepts were analyzed to determine the frequency with which a given means was selected, how much of the chart was explored, the sequence of exploration, and the influence of function ordering. Results indicated a tendency to focus upon the initial columns of the chart irrespective of functional order. The most-to-least-important functional order resulted in higher chances and a uniformity of design space exploration.

Copyright © 2019 by ASME
Topics: Design
Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.


Kurtoglu, T., Swantner, A., and Campbell, M. I., 2010, “Automating the Conceptual Design Process: ‘From Black Box to Component Selection,” Artif. Intell. Eng. Des. Anal. Manuf., 24(1), p. 49. [CrossRef]
Shang, Y., Huang, K. Z., and Zhang, Q. P., 2009, “Genetic Model for Conceptual Design of Mechanical Products Based on Functional Surface,” Int. J. Adv. Manuf. Technol., 42(3–4), pp. 211–221. [CrossRef]
Hsu, W., and Woon, I. M. Y., 1998, “Current Research in the Conceptual Design of Mechanical Products,” Comput. Aided Des., 30(5), pp. 377–389. [CrossRef]
Pahl, G., Beitz, W., Blessing, L., Feldhusen, J., Grote, K.-H. H., and Wallace, K., 2013, Engineering Design: A Systematic Approach, Springer-Verlag London Limited, London.
Shah, J. J., 1998, “Experimental Investigation of Progressive Idea Generation Techniques in Engineering Design,” Design Engineering Technical Conference, ASME, Atlanta, GA, Sept. 13–16, pp. 1–15.
Smith, G., Richardson, J., Summers, J. D., and Mocko, G. M., 2012, “Concept Exploration Through Morphological Charts: an Experimental Study,” ASME J. Mech. Des., 134(5), p. 051004. [CrossRef]
Richardson, J. L., III, Summers, J. D., and Mocko, G. M., 2011, “Function Representations in Morphological Charts: An Experimental Study on Variety and Novelty on Means Generated,” Interdisciplinary Design: Proceedings of the 21st CIRP Design Conference, M. K. Thompson, ed., Daejeon, South Korea, Mar. 27–29, pp. 76–84.
Dym, C., and Little, P., 2000, Engineering Design: A Project-Based Introduction, John Wiley & Sons, Inc, New York.
Zwicky F., 1967, “The Morphological Approach to Discovery, Invention, Research and Construction,” New Methods of Thought and Procedure, F. Zwicky, and A. G. Wilson, eds., Springer, Berlin, pp. 273–297.
Niku, S. B., 2008, Creative Design of Products and Systems, Wiley, New York, NY.
Ulrich, K. T., and Eppinger, S. D., 2004, Product Design and Development, McGraw-Hill, Boston, MA, USA.
Voland, G., 2003, Engineering By Design, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
Adams, J., 1990, Conceptual Blockbusting, Addison-Wesley, Inc., Reading, MA.
Cross, N., 2008, Engineering Design Methods: Strategies for Product Design, John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY.
Ritchey, T., 2006, “Problem Structuring Using Computer-Aided Morphological Analysis,” J. Oper. Res. Soc., 57(7), pp. 792–801. [CrossRef]
de Waal, A., and Ritchey, T., 2007, “Combining Morphological Analysis and Bayesian Networks for Strategic Decision Support,” ORiON, 23(2), pp. 105–121. [CrossRef]
Gero, J. S., Jiang, H., and Williams, C. B., 2012, “Does Using Different Concept Generation Techniques Change the Design Cognition of Design Students?” International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, ASME, Chicago, IL, Aug. 12–15, p. 71165.
Kannengiesser, U., Williams, C., and Gero, J., 2013, “What do the Concept Generation Techniques of Triz, Morphological Analysis and Brainstorming Have in Common,” 19th International Conference on Engineering Design ICED 2013, Paper No. 7 DS75-07, Oct. 2015, pp. 297–300.
Bryant, C. R., Bohm, M., Stone, R. B., and McAdams, D. A., 2007, “An Interactive Morphological Matrix Computational Design Tool: A Hybrid of Two Methods,” ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, Las Vegas, NV, Sept. 4–7, pp. 249–261.
Tiwari, S., Teegavarapu, S., Summers, J. D., and Fadel, G. M., 2009, “Automating Morphological Chart Exploration: A Multi-Objective Genetic Algorithm to Address Compatibility and Uncertainty,” Int. J. Prod. Dev., 9(1–3), pp. 111–139. [CrossRef]
Kang, Y., and Tang, D., 2013, “Matrix-Based Computational Conceptual Design With Ant Colony Optimisation,” J. Eng. Des., 24(6), pp. 429–452. [CrossRef]
Chawla, A., 2018, “An Experimental Investigation of the Effect of Functional Ordering on Morphological Chart Exploration,” MS thesis, Clemson University, TigerPrints, Clemson, SC.
Chawla, A., and Summers, J. D., 2018, “Function Ordering Within Morphological Charts: An Experimental Study,” ASME 2018 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, New York, Paper No. V007T06A012.
Patel, A., Kramer, W., Summers, J. D., and Shuffler-porter, M., 2016, “Function Modeling: A Study of Sequential Model Completion Based on Count and Chaining of Functions,” ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, ASME, Charlotte, NC, Paper No. DETC2016-59860.
Sen C., and Summers J. D., 2014, “A Pilot Protocol Study on How Designers Construct Function Structures in Novel Design,” Design Computing and Cognition’12, J. Gero, ed., Springer-Verlag, College Station, TX, pp. 247–264.
Patel, A., Kramer, W. S., Flynn, M., Summers, J. D., and Porter, M. L. S., 2017, “Function Modeling: Comparison of Chaining Methods Using Protocol Study and Designer Study,” Proceedings of the ASME Design Engineering Technical Conference, Cleveland, OH, Aug. 6–9, Paper No. 68420.
Worinkeng, E., Summers, J. D., and Joshi, S., 2013, “Can a Pre-Sketching Activity Improve Idea Generation?,” Smart Product Engineering, Springer, New York, pp. 583–592.


Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Data recording sheet (snippet)

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 9

Morph chart coverage

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 10

Priority exploration graph

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Column means frequency

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Effect of functional ordering

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Frequency–time progression (Priority)

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

Frequency–time progression (Reverse Priority)

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6

Frequency–time progression (I/O)

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 7

Frequency–time progression (O/I)

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 8

Frequency–time progression (RND)



Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging and repositioning the boxes below.

Related Journal Articles
Related eBook Content
Topic Collections

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In