The Multifunctionality Principle is closely related to the Merging Principle. It is the result of merging several components that we get a multifunctional component of the system which can perform several functions.
Traditional definition of the principle:
An object performs multiple functions thus there is no need for other objects.
Obtaining a multifunctional component performing several functions is the goal and result of applying the Merging Principle. The difference is that, in the Multifunctionality Principle, we consider not the process of merging several components but the result of this transformation – a multifunctional component. We consider whether a component of the system can perform not only its function but also contiguous functions suitable for it. In fact, the principle stipulates seeking to increase the system ideality.
In addition to the functions already performed in the system, the multifunctional component can also perform some new useful functions introduced into the system. It is that in this case we do not carry out the entire transformation sequence "Introduce a component, the carrier of a new function, remove an object, and ensure the function with the remaining components." We try to comprehend at once whether it is possible to add a new function to the component, whether it can become multifunctional.
The Multifunctionality Principle is aimed at reducing the system cost while preserving its functionality. It is applied in the same manner as the Merging Principle when it is required to cut the system cost, to scale it down. The need can arise from the problem statement or when new components are introduced during its solution.
Example. Dumbbell of bottle
A plastic coke bottle is narrowed in the central part. Once the bottle is empty, you can pour water or fill it with sand to use it as a dumbbell.
Modern electronic devices are highly multifunctional. Specifically, a smartphone can replace many electronic devices: a telephone, a camera and a camcorder, a computer, recording devices etc.
Chopsticks are convenient for various dishes but their use requires some skill. Therefore, the idea is to use multifunctional tableware: chopsticks with a fork and a knife. To do this, the loose ends of the chopsticks are made in the form of prongs and a knife blade.
Example. Combination tool
Interchangeable tools are multifunctional and can be used in a variety of applications. Specifically, a ratchet screwdriver has a set of interchangeable heads to work with screws and bolts.
Example. Wrench for any bolt
The wrench head is a set of spring-loaded pins located in the housing. This segmentation of the head into pins and their subsequent merging enables to clutch any bolt.