Product model based translation mechanism to support multiple viewpoints in the design for manufacture of injection moulded products
Global competitiveness challenges manufacturing industry to bring to market well designed and manufactured new products at competitive prices, in as short a lead time as possible. To achieve this, inputs are needed from experts in a multitude of disciplines as well as from customers and suppliers. The overall design must be well orchestrated and integrated which has led to the evolution of the philosophy of Concurrent Engineering where the decisions about different aspects related to the product's life cycle, must be considered simultaneously. While the use of design teams is achieving some success there is a need for modern software tools which support the design process to be radically improved. Typically design for manufacture software systems provide only support for a single process e.g. design for assembly, design for machining, design for fixturing etc. However, when the full breadth of design for manufacture is considered there are many aspects that must be addressed. This leads to the need for information systems to be able to support multiple views of a product, where each view provides the appropriate representation to support at least one manufacturing perspective. This research has investigated the potential of product model based systems to support multiple viewpoints in Design for Manufacture. The research has focused on the design for manufacture of plastic injection moulded products and has explored the particular viewpoints of mouldability, mould design and mould manufacturing. The approach taken has been to explore particular information structures to support each Design for Manufacture application. Subsequently, the relationships between these information structures have been investigated and sets of translating mechanisms to convert information from one view to another have been designed. An experimental Product Model has been implemented using an object-oriented database. This contains a mouldability view, cavity and core design views and cavity and core machining views. Translation mechanisms between views have been implemented using Visual C++ language. The concept and implementation of this research have been tested through experiments using both rotational and prismatic products. This research has therefore shown that multiple viewpoint design for manufacturing can be supported by a combination of product model data structures and specific sets of translation mechanisms.