A Methodology for the Remanufacturing of Prototypes

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The tensions between prototype iteration and its associated costs, both in terms of time and resource, are identified as a critical challenge in contemporary prototyping practices. Whilst it is acknowledged that increased prototyping correlates to improved products and greater product innovation, the cost of prototype iteration, particularly in the later stages of the development process is a key factor in determining the extent of prototyping that is undertaken, thus the potential for product success. Addressing this challenge, the research presented in this thesis investigates the development of a methodology for prototype remanufacturing in New Product Development (NPD). Remanufacturing, defined as the restoration of used products to a like-new functional state, emerges as a strategic approach with potential to significantly improve the efficiency of prototype iteration. By remanufacturing, an existing prototype could be ’edited’ to embody only the necessary change between design iterations, promising to reduce not only the time and cost associated with prototyping but also aligning with the shift towards sustainable practices in NPD. This thesis therefore aims to investigate the unique challenges and opportunities that remanufacturing presents when applied in the context of prototyping in NPD. The research adopts a methodological framework encompassing: a comprehensive analysis of design change between high-fidelity prototype iterations, exploring the potential benefits of remanufacturing, and the formalisation of remanufacturing strategies for prototype remanufacturing. Central to this research is the development and optimisation of a computational-remanufacturing tool, designed to enhance the computational efficiency of the prototype remanufacturing process. The research addresses key issues such as the fidelity-efficiency trade-off in prototyping and the need for rapid iteration processes, particularly in the later stages of NPD. Through a series of case studies, simulations, and empirical evaluations, the thesis demonstrates the practical feasibility and benefits of implementing a remanufacturing method in prototype development. In conclusion, the research establishes remanufacturing as a method with significant potential to augment the prototyping process. Findings show remanufacturing to yield significant time and resource savings whilst maintaining a relative level of prototype fidelity and functionality between design iterations. The research offers a novel approach to prototype development, in particular towards iteration, marked by increased efficiency and sustainability. The thesis concludes with guidance for the integration of remanufacturing strategies to support design and engineering practitioners.
Date of Award7 May 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorChris M Snider (Supervisor) & Ben J Hicks (Supervisor)


  • Prototyping
  • Remanufacturing
  • Additive Manufacturing
  • Hybrid Manufacturing
  • Simulation
  • Rapid Prototyping
  • 3D data
  • Point Clouds
  • Hybrid Prototyping
  • Modularity

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