Design Margins: A hidden issue in industry

Eckert, Claudia; Isaksson, Ola and Earl, Chris (2019). Design Margins: A hidden issue in industry. Design Science, 5, article no. e9.



In complex products the values of parameters are rarely exactly the required values, rather they often have a margin that might be designed in deliberately or be the incidental results of other design decisions. These margins play a critical role in design processes in managing engineering change and iteration. While engineers often talk about margins informally, designers and researchers also use other terms for specific margin concepts. This paper reviews the existing literature on related concepts and defines margins formally. It discusses the role margins play in handling uncertainty by distinguishing between buffer and excess. Buffer deals with uncertainty and excess with the remaining overcapacity of the design. Buffer can transition into excess of the design solution if the uncertainty can be reduced. The concepts are applied the temperature margins of several candidate materials for a non-rotary jet engine component. This shows that a clear understanding of margins can help a company to select design alternatives

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