Knowledge dimensions in prototyping: investigating the what, when and how of knowledge generation during product development

Mark Goudswaard*, Ric Real, Chris Snider, Luis ernesto Muñoz camargo, Nicolas Salgado zamora, Ben Hicks

*Corresponding author for this work

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

1 Citation (Scopus)


Prototyping is a knowledge generation activity facilitating improved understanding of problem and solution spaces. This knowledge can be generated across a range of dimensions, termed knowledge dimensions (KDs), via a range of methods and media, each with their own inherent properties. This article investigates and characterises the relationships between prototypes and knowledge generated from prototyping activities during the design process, by establishing how different methods and media contribute across KDs. In so doing, it provides insights into prototyping activity, as well as affording a means by which prototyping knowledge generation may be studied in detail. The investigation considers sets of prototypes from eight parallel 16-week design projects, with subsequent investigation of the knowledge contributions that each prototype provides and at what stage of the design process. Results showed statistical significance supporting three inferences: i) teams undertaking the same design brief create similar knowledge profiles; ii) prototyping fidelity impacts KD contribution and iii) KDs align with the different phases of the project. This article demonstrates a means to describe and potentially prescribe knowledge generation activities through prototyping. Correspondingly, the article contends that consideration of KDs offers potential to improve aspects of the design process through better prototyping method selection and sequencing.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere26
JournalDesign Science
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work reported in this article has been undertaken as part of Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded projects Brokering Additive Manufacturing (BAM), ProtoTwinning, 21st Century Prototyping, and Royal Academy of Engineering funded Project Clean Access (grant references EP/V05113X/1, EP/R032696/1, EP/W024152/1 and EXPP 2021/1/318, respectively). The work was conducted at the University of Bristol in the Design and Manufacturing Futures Lab in collaboration with La Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá. Underlying data for this paper is openly available at . 1

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press.


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