What happens when your team is in a brainstorming session? At the end of the brainstorming sessions, your team members come up with different solutions. But for doing that, they need to decompose the main problem into several functional parts. These functional parts are called design blocks. 

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But having these design blocks does not mean you have proven solutions. You need to analyze each of these functions to find out the best solution. That’s where you need a morphological chart or morphological chart template. You can use such a chart to put all the functions into a tabular form.

In this article, you will know everything about morphological charts. So without any delay let’s understand the brief definitions of everything.  

What exactly is a morphological chart?

A morphological chart, also known as a morph chart, is a technique used in engineering to incorporate fragmentary form design concepts into complete solutions. A morph chart, on the other hand, is a visual aid. It’s essentially a list of all of your design’s features and functions. It is possible to assemble comprehensive design concepts from these partially developed concepts using morph charts. 

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One of the most useful tools for visualizing a huge amount of qualitative design space is the morphological chart. The answers to the design challenge are shown in these diagrams, along with the functions they can perform. An integrated theoretical design solution can be achieved by combining one method for each function.

So in short, we can say that a morphological chart is a tabular method to systematically analyze different aspects of a problem, especially engineering problems.

How to put possible solutions in a morphological chart?

The first step is to group together all of the unfinished design solutions based on a common function or trait. In most cases, the product’s functions are used as a preliminary step. It is possible to identify a product’s functions and subfunctions by doing a functional analysis.

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Despite this, function analysis does not assure that all the necessary sub-functions are discovered. These sub-functions often have pre-existing answers, while some are devised by the author. The components of the morphological chart will be derived from these solutions. A grid of functions and components can be generated using the morphological method. this method.

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Components are listed as per their functional importance. Concrete and specific, the components identify the items that belong to a particular category (i.e. parameter). Analogous products already exist for some of the components in this solution. A set of functions and the components that implement those functions are arranged in columns and rows, respectively.

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You can identify the parameters by looking for the features that all components have in common. By doing so, it is possible to determine what the final result should look like. Each option specifies a distinct subcategory of the overall category.

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The product’s function is broken down into sub-functions using the morphological chart. Ideas are created for every sub-functions and integrated to form an overall answer. It is only after diligently analyzing the whole combination of several parameters and components, you can come up with a working idea. As a conceptual solution, this idea should be considered a major solution: a well-selected mix of components.

Through the formulation of technical concepts, new components can be discovered. The morphological method is an evolutionary method in which parameters and components go on evolving until you have the final morphological chart.

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Finally, solution principles are discovered by selecting one element from each parameter. To put it another way, each component combination proposes a solution to the situation.

Why are morphological charts used?

Morphological charts have great use in engineering designs. When you need to put all the product functionalities in a visual form, there is no better option than a morphological chart.

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You need to catalog the functions first and then follow with a thorough evaluation. Analyze the possible combinations on the table to find the best matching combination that can prove to be the best design concept.

It’s also critical to document your possibilities and options. All design concepts must be justified. Finally, you should be able to simply evaluate the possible embodiments to ensure you have considered as many sensible ideas as possible.

However, in order to save time and resources, you must also be efficient in the externalization of embodiments. Another time-saving method is to use pre-designed morphological chart templates. 

When can you use a morphological chart?

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You can use the morphological charts during brainstorming and idea generation. For this, you can take the function analysis as the first point to start with. However, you also remember that not all design problems need morphological methods.

Another important point while using morphological charts is to externalize the choices. After all, writing the ideas will help to think better and come up with a more effective solution.

How can you make a morphological chart?

A morphological chart is basically a tabular diagram that depicts the various alternative implementations for each functional component in your manufacturing system. To make your own morphological chart template, you can list every functional subsystem of your product in the chart’s left-most column, one system per row.

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Fill out the field for each subsystem with a short overview or picture of all the forms you imagined that could deliver the required functionality. Ideally, each embodiment would be represented by a sketch as well as a short sentence or label.

After you’ve finished the initial pass of designing the morphological chart, ask the following questions to your team. 

  • Are you certain that each embodiment for a particular subsystem is distinct from the others?
  • Are you certain that the subsystems are not related to each other?
  • Is there anything missing in your chart? 
  • Did you overlook anything?
  • Is there any scope to add new functionalities to the chart?

Follow the methods while preparing the morphological charts

List all the product functions

List the characteristics (or functionalities) that are critical to the product’s success. The list must not be too large, but it should cover all of the key product functions. The list must not go beyond ten.

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List the possible means along with each function

In order to achieve each function, list the various means or solutions that could be used. When brainstorming, don’t be afraid to come up with new ideas as well as well-known solutions or components.

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The solutions’ most critical aspects should be documented. For each alternative solution, try to keep the same level of generality. It may be more meaningful to only investigate different battery possibilities A stopwatch-like grip, a watch-style grip, a rifle grip, and other similar devices might all be used to ‘hold’ a mobile phone.

List the function-mean combinations

Compile a list of all conceivable alternatives. These sub-solutions are combined to form the product’s “morphological chart,” which is meant to depict the product’s “solution space.” Try to provide as many possibilities as possible in a visual manner. 

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Identifying viable sub-solutions is now easier than ever. Because the overall number of possible combinations could be enormous, only the most practical or aesthetically pleasing options should be considered. Make a list of all combinations that might work, and then go back and evaluate them afterward. The following is an illustration of what I’m referring to.

How to use a morphological chart?

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The starting point

A clearly specified design problem is the beginning point for a morphological chart. Once the product’s function and subfunctions have been analyzed, it’s time to begin designing the product itself.

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Expected outcome

For the initial concept development challenge, the morphological technique is predicted to produce several possible solutions which are called expected outcomes.

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The procedure to follow

  • In order to address a problem, it is necessary to state it as precisely as possible.
  • Make a list of every variable that could affect the outcome.
  • With parameters as columns, create an anatomical chart (a matrix).
  • Each parameter has a set of associated components. Fill in the rows accordingly. Analysis of similar goods or the development of new principles for parameters can lead to the discovery of components (functions).
  • In order to reduce the number of major solutions, use the assessment procedures (row analysis and grouping of parameters).
  • Combine at least one element from each attribute to create primary solutions.
  • Consider the parameters (design requirements) and select a limited number of major solutions after careful analysis and evaluation of all alternatives (at least 3).
  • The remainder of the design process can focus on refining the selected primary solutions.

Some more tips and some concerns

  • When formulating the solution concept in drawings, be sure to include all of the components that went into the creation of the fundamental solution.
  • It’s easy to get swayed by the “safe” pairings of components. Experiment with unusual combinations of components to see what you can come up with.
  • Instead of using words to describe the components, pictographs or symbols should be used.

The conclusion

Morphological charts have several real-life use cases, mostly in engineering conceptual designing. It’s useful in finding out possible solutions to a problem that has several attributes. Hence, always use it while brainstorming for a new problem or finding different angles to a particular problem.