Automated Manufacturability Analysis of Machined Parts

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Because of pressing demands to reduce lead time and product cost, increasing research attention is being given to integration of engineering design and manufacturing. In this thesis, a systematic approach has been developed for computer-aided manufacturability analysis of machined parts. This approach can be used during design stages to improve the product quality from the manufacturing point of view.

Evaluating the manufacturability of a proposed design involves determining whether or not it is manufacturable with a given set of manufacturing operations - and if so, then finding the associated manufacturing efficiency. In this research, the design is represented as a solid model. The tolerance and surface finish information is represented as attributes of various faces of the solid model. Machining features are used to model the available machining operations Since there can be several different ways to manufacture a proposed design, this requires considering alternative ways to manufacture it, in order to determine which one best meets the design and manufacturing objectives.

The approach developed in this thesis is based on the systematic exploration of various machining plans. The first step is to identify all machining features which can potentially be used to machine the given design. Using these features, different machining plans are generated. Each time a new plan generated, it is examined to find whether it can produce the desired design tolerances. If a plan is found to be capable of meeting the tolerance specifications, then its rating is computed. If no machining plan can be found that is capable of producing the design, then the design cannot be machined using the given set of machining operations; otherwise, the manufacturability rating of the design is computed. Since various alternative ways of machining the part are considered in this approach, the conclusions about the manufacturability are more realistic compared to the approach where just one alternative is considered.

It is anticipated that this research will help in speeding up the evaluation of new product designs in order to decide how or whether to manufacture them. Such a capability will be useful in responding quickly to changing demands and opportunities in the marketplace.