Dimensions of Knowledge in Prototyping: A Review and Characterisation of Prototyping Methods and their Contributions to Design Knowledge

Ric Real*, Chris M Snider, Mark A Goudswaard, Ben J Hicks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
91 Downloads (Pure)


Whilst prior works have characterised the affordances of prototyping methods in terms of generating knowledge about a product or process, the types, or ‘dimensions’ of knowledge towards which they contribute are not fully understood. In this paper we adapt the concept of ‘design domains’ as a method to interpret, and better understand the contributions of different prototyping methods to design knowledge in new product development. We first synthesise a set of ten dimensions for design knowledge from a review of literature in design-related fields. A study was then conducted in which participants from engineering backgrounds completed a Likert-type questionnaire to quantify the perceived contributions to design knowledge of 90 common prototyping methods against each dimension. We statistically analyse results to identify patterns in the knowledge contribution of different methods. Results reveal that methods exhibit significantly different contribution profiles, suggesting different methods to be suited to different knowledge. Thus, this paper indicates potential for new methods, methodology and processes to leverage such characterisations for better selection and sequencing of methods in the prototyping process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1303 - 1312
Number of pages10
Journal Proceedings of the Design Society
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2021
EventICED21 - 23rd International Conference on Engineering Design - Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden
Duration: 16 Aug 202220 Aug 2025

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work reported in this paper has been undertaken as part of the Twinning of digital-physical models during prototyping project. The work was conducted at the University of Bristol, Design and Manufacturing Futures Laboratory (http://www.dmf-lab.co.uk) which is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Grant reference (EP/R032696/1).

Publisher Copyright:
© ICED 2021.All right reserved.


  • design cognition
  • design practice
  • new product development
  • design learning


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