M.S. Thesis Presentation by Christopher Glenn Franck
Monday, November 15, 1999

(Dr. David Rosen, advisor)

"Assessing the Value of Rapid Prototyping and Rapid Tooling in Product Design Processes"


        Rapid Prototyping is quickly becoming a key factor in reducing the
 cost and time to market associated with new product development.
 Unfortunately a lot of the potential time and cost savings associated with
 rapid prototyping are lost due to the use of processes that are incompatible
 with the type of information needed by the designer at any given point in
 the product development process.  A common example of this is using a
 relatively expensive Stereolithography (SLA) model early in the development
 process to verify the overall form of a candidate design when a concept
 model costing much less and built in a fraction of the time would have
 provided the necessary information.  This thesis develops a quantitative
 measure for the value of a prototype at any given point in the product
 development process.  This value metric is then used to aid designer's
 prototyping decisions by attempting to match the appropriate prototyping
 technology to the designer's informational needs.

        The primary goal of this thesis is to first develop a model that can
 assess the value of a prototyping activity in the context of product
 development, and then to use this value model to create a web based
 prototype selection aid.  In order to quantify the value of a prototype
 three separate metrics are developed; benefit, cost and value.  The benefit
 metric is used to assess a prototype's ability to produce useful information
 about a given design.  The cost metric estimates the cost of a prototyping
 activity based on the initial product specifications.  The value metric
 combines the benefit and cost metrics with several existing value
 formulations to create quantitative value measures for the various
 prototyping technologies in the context of a specific product development
 effort.  The value model is then implemented into a prototype selection aid
 using a two-level hierarchical problem formulation.  The usefulness of the
 value model and prototype selection aid is then validated by applying this
 method to three industry case studies and comparing the results to the
 actual prototyping strategies used during product development.