PhD Defence-Camilla Arndt Hansen

PhD Defence by Camilla Arndt Hansen with the title "Design by Prototyping: Strategic support for prototype-driven product development"

New product development is a risky affair. Significant investments of time and money must be made before a product can be released on the market, and each decision in the design process can be a reason for the product to ultimately succeed or fail. Many factors influence the success of a product, but prototyping offers a special opportunity to test assumptions and evaluate decisions while the product is being designed. Prototypes are early models of a product that can be used to learn, communicate, and evaluate design ideas. If used well, prototypes can increase product quality, ensure a better product–market fit, improve communication with customers, and shorten the time to market.

New technologies can help designers fabricate prototypes more quickly and cheaply than before. However, to create valuable prototypes, designers must also know when, why, and how to apply these technologies. While companies often invest in the fabrication of advanced prototypes, little attention is given to the strategic knowledge that ensures the prototypes create value in the design process. Similarly, formal teaching of strategic prototyping skills is usually not emphasised in the education of design engineers. The aim of this PhD is to help designers increase prototyping value in product design. This is done by supporting the strategic use of prototypes during the entire design process.

Based on the Design Research Methodology, a series of mixed methods classroom studies and industry case studies were first carried out to expand our understanding of the prototyping process and then to support designers in managing this process intentionally.

Prototypes are often seen as technical artefacts. Therefore, the first part of the research investigates how prototyping can be described as a process that progresses the design of a product through different types of models. A conceptual model for the prototyping process is presented along with the ProtoMapping method, which can be used to visualise real prototyping processes to learn how to prototype successfully at different stages of the design process. The second part of the project evaluates systematic approaches for structuring the prototyping process. This results in a prototyping toolbox with three strategic tools: Prototyping Planner, Prototyping Target, and ProtoMap. Finally, the Design by Prototyping framework is presented to describe how to manage a strategic prototyping process through prototyping sprints.

The use of the developed support was shown to help designers define a clearer purpose for their prototypes, identify prototyping results, and make deliberate decisions for prototype embodiment - factors that are essential for effective prototyping. The prototyping support can be used to integrate strategic prototyping skills in the formal education of engineering design students and to implement practices for prototype-driven design in industry. Finally, the support is based on agile principles and can be used to increase agility in the development of physical product.

This PhD presents an expanded and improved theory for the prototyping process and advances the ongoing transition from seeing prototypes as technical artefacts that validate a design to recognising prototyping as an integrated part of the design process: Design by Prototyping.


Tue 08 Mar 22
15:00 - 18:00


DTU Mekanik


The Technical University of Denmark
Building 101, Meeting room S01