Research team

Product development

Attractive maintenance to extend product lifetime: Exploration of the designerly opportunities from a user-centred perspective. 01/10/2021 - 30/09/2025

Abstract

Within the current linear economy, resources are rapidly depleting. Products with a short lifetime are often discarded for various reasons without being used to their full potential. The objective of this research is to investigate the opportunities to lengthen the lifetime of products through maintenance and repair, from the users' perspective. We focus on products in the cycling context with a short lifetime (such as cycling parts, clothing and helmets, drink bottles, …) to narrow the field and provide an innovative design context with a wide variety of products and innovation (design and production) in Flanders. Starting from a literature review, a theoretical framework will be compiled that encompasses both product attributes and psychological-ownership variables, which influence the willingness of a user to lengthen their products' lifetime. Influences of these variables will be explored through qualitative and quantitative research. Next, the relations between these variables, as well as their effect on the actions of users will be investigated. Using the results from these research steps, four products from the cycling industry will be redesigned to facilitate optimal maintenance and repair intentions for users. The effect of these optimisations will be analysed through qualitative research, such as concept tests and in-depth interviews. Together with innovative managers/designers in the cycling industry as well as other related industries, the implications of such new products will be analysed and viable strategies explored. The aimed outcome of this research project consists of the following: (i) a fundamental understanding of the motivations of users to lengthen the lifetime of their product through maintenance and repair, (ii) strategies for designers to optimize products and create attractive maintenance and repair actions and (iii) learnings, strategies and models for businesses/manufacturers to address changes in their industry as a result of implementation of these guidelines.

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