Global Trends: Product Development:

Development of New Products in the Future

by Professor Dr. Jože Duhovnik
Professor of Computer-Aided Design, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

We humans will deepen our knowledge about processes in nature. We will continue to recognize those aspects of natural processes we have not yet managed to understand to date. We have not been entirely successful because our knowledge of biological processes, which are the basis of all living nature, has been insufficient. So far we have as a rule been able to recognize the status of processes which are necessary for creating nonliving nature. Once we delve deeper into natural processes and recognize them, we will be able to simulate them using newly developed technical processes. And with the simulation of technical processes, we will find that the known technical systems cannot fully control the functions of new technical processes. Therefore, the development of technical systems will be accelerated in order to control new functions. The list of connections between natural processes and technical ones will be supplemented, and a list of connections between natural systems and technical ones will be made in the same way. The concepts of this approach have been initiated in the last fifteen years of the previous century (HUBKA&EDER) and deepened and supplemented at the beginning of the current one (DUHOVNIK).

In the development of new technical systems, humans will use various methods. One of them will certainly be the method of decomposing existing technical systems that are used for simulating new technical systems. I believe that in the decomposition of technical systems it is possible via deduction to develop an expanded or entirely new set of functions. By making various combinations of this set of functions and applying various theories for the prediction of results, humans will be able to achieve a composition of the new set of functions that will enable them to generate new technical systems for performing both partial and complex functions. Attempts at product development by decomposing existing products were researched at the end of the previous century (ŽAVBI&DUHOVNIK, CHAKRABARTI, WALLACE) and are gaining ever wider use among researchers of design and development processes.

It is especially important to draw attention to the recognition of the initial part of the creative process. Studies currently underway (DUHOVNIK&BENEDIČIČ, several US and British researchers) demonstrate the need for humans to analyze the entire creative process using forms of expression such as drawings or speech. Human activities within the research and development process can be classified as creative. Research into the process of making new creations will enable a greater creativity among all creative developmental engineers. The lecturers’ task of directing emerging engineers towards a global recognition of technical systems will become especially important for new generations of engineers. Global product recognition requires a comprehensive mastery of all a product’s functions, from its creation to its use to its elimination, i.e. throughout the product life cycle.

Because of the integration of knowledge over wider-reaching areas, high-quality universities with top scientists will need to work together and offer their students more complex knowledge. Such knowledge will be especially necessary at postgraduate schools. Universities will associate to form virtual, highly specialized postgraduate schools. In their curriculums, these schools will use a comprehensive approach and apply a more complex understanding of nature. As a rule, natural processes will be analyzed using an integral approach, which applies especially to the study of engineering knowledge. In the real world, there will be top universities educating high-quality and creative engineers. However, individual lecturers from these universities and their laboratories will also associate in virtual communities to form new virtual universities. Physically, students will remain in their cultural and social environment, but via their research and studies they will participate in the virtual world, which will enable them to reduce cultural and social barriers through a global approach.

The essential elements in the understanding of the development of new products will be axioms describing products in nature, in the human environment.

Product axioms

Product axioms (May 1998) Jože Duhovnik

  1. A product represents a technical and cultural value.
  2. A product is a material solution to a process deficiency that has been identified as an idea helpful to man.
  3. A product finds its origins in nature, is adapted for its function, and is eventually returned to its natural elements or parts.
  4. Each environment in the universe has its respective products.
  5. Each product is designed with its anticipated users in mind.
  6. A product with no user is not a product, but simply a creation consisting of materials and components.
  7. Products which are unsuitable in a particular milieu (incompatible with their environment) can be kept e.g. in museums as examples of technical and cultural value (specimens).
  8. Products which are incompatible with their milieu and are not kept as specimens should be returned to nature.
  9. Products enable the evaluation of technology, manufacturing and business.

These axioms enable the recognition of a product’s value in human development and a product’s status with respect to its time of creation, use and setting in history. Therefore, when a product is created, its quality has to be established through compliance with the above axioms.


ANDREASEN M. M., Hein L., (2000), Integrated Product Development, Institut for Product Development, Technical University of Denmark, Lynghy

CHAKRABARTI, Chakrabarti A., Johnson A., Kiriyama T., (1997), An Approach to Automated synthesis of Solution Principles for Micro-sensors Design, Proceedings ICED, Tampere, Finland

DUFFY, Duffy A., H. B., (1997), The Design Productivity Debate, Springer Verlag, London

DUHOVNIK, Duhovnik J., (1977), Issues in the Effective Management of Technology Innovation, an Interdisciplinary Perspective, NATO Science Program and Cooperation Partners Advanced Research Workshop, Bled, Slovenia

HORVATH, Horvath I., (1998), Shifting paradigms of Computer Aided Design, Delft University Press, Delft,

HUBKA&EDER, Hubka V., Eder W.E., (1988), Theory of technical systems, Springer Verlag

SUH, Suh N. P., (1990), The Principles of Design, Oxford University Press, Inc. New York

ŽAVBI&DUHOVNIK, Žavbi R., Duhovnik J., (2001), Conceptual Design Chains with Basic Schematics Based on an Algorithm of Conceptual Design, Journal in Engineering Design, Springer Verlag


BWW Society member Jože Duhovnik is a full professor of computer-aided design at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His pedagogic and research work is oriented towards design theory, innovative product development technic, project management, information flow in CAD, and geometric modeling. He is the founder and head of the CAD Laboratory at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, University of Ljubljana, since 1983. He has more of 40 paper in SCI journals and books. He writen three books on the design and PDM systems. He leading more of 250 real industrial projects in Europe, Middle East, Africa and South Amerika. He received a BS, a MS and a PhD in mechanical engineering design in 1972, 1974 and 1980, respectively. His postdoctoral study took place at the Department of Precision Machinery Engineering at the University of Tokyo, Japan. He is a member of VDI, IFToMM, Eurographics, New York Science Academy and ZSiT (national society of mechanical engineers).

Currently, he is professor on University of Ljubljana and University of Sarajevo and one of founder at international summer school E-GPR (European Global Product Realization), which is held between university of Delft, Ljubljana, Lausanne and Zagreb.


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