The goal of the proposed research is to develop a system for the design and fabrication of mechanical parts that is analogous to the MOSIS system used for VLSI prototyping. In the proposed model, a Discrete Part Interchange Format (DPIF) file will provide the basic infrastructure for exchange of information between the designer and fabricator. Data types in the DPIF include a Workpiece Description (WD), Part Description (PD) and three classes of Fabrication Blocks (FB). Fabrication Blocks are simple and intuitive operators which also limit the designer's choices to shapes which are manufactureable. Data are organized in a hierarchical data structure with associativity between the geometry contained in the Part Description and the Fabrication Blocks. Attribute Schemas provide a powerful method for attaching information to the data types. System functionality for the Designer includes creation, editing and `macro` simulation of the FBs. System functionality for the Fabricator includes postprocessing, micro simulation and cost estimation. Experiments will be performed in collaboration with other universities, and with a local machining contractor to test and refine the concepts.
Approximately 50-100 discrete parts will be produced. This research, if successful, could fundamentally change the way that discrete parts of small lots sizes are produced. Physical proximity of designer and fabricator would no longer be necessary, delivery times will be shorter, bids and contracts will be exchanged by electronic transmission. Designers will request bids via a web based distribution system. Fabricators will estimate cost to build with minimum human effort and submit bids via email.
R.B. Jerard, "A Clean Interface for Design and Fabrication of Discrete Mechanical Parts Based on Manufacturing Features," Proceedings of the 1999 NSF Design and Manufacturing System Conference," Long Beach, California, Jan. 5-8, 1999. (html - external link)