A Modular Design Approach to Support Sustainable Design


This paper presents a redesign method supporting sustainable design of products. The method correlates product modularity with various life cycle directions at the conceptual stage of design. In the case of product redesign, the modular design approach allows designers to focus on increasing the sustainability of a product in terms of recyclability, disassembly and reduction of resource usage at the conceptual stage. By stepping back to the conceptual design phase and analyzing the product free from its current embodiment solutions, the scope of redesign and the potential product improvement increases. At this stage of design, the comprehension of the relationship between the various life cycle aspects of the product and the product design is essential. The elimination preference index (EPI) metric, calculated by pair-wise comparison of various factors governing the product design, quantifies the effect of redesign alternatives on product sustainability. The method is applied to the redesign of twelve small-scale consumer products, of which one example is presented here. In all cases, the redesigned products exhibited enhancement in modularity and part count reduction.

Meeting Name

8th International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, IDETC/CIE2004 (2004: Sep. 28-Oct. 2, Salt Lake City, UT)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Life Cycle Assessment; Modularity; Modularity (Engineering); Sustainable design

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2004 American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

02 Oct 2004