A concurrent approach to automated manufacturing process planning
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With the increasing demand of fast-paced and hybrid manufacturing processes in modern industry, it is desirable to expedite the iterations between design and manufacturing through intelligent computational techniques. In this research, we propose a concurrent approach of this kind to streamline the design and manufacturing processes. With this approach, a CAD design is automatically analyzed in terms of its manufacturability in the early design stage. If the part is manufacturable, a set of process plans optimized in time, cost, fixture quality and tolerance satisfaction are reported in real time. If the part is not manufacturable, the potential design changes are provided for better manufacturing. In the approach, the geometric information of 3D models and the empirical knowledge in manufacturing processes, fixtures, and tolerances are combined and encapsulated into a graph-grammar based reasoning. The reasoning systematically extracts meaningful manufacturing details that later constitute complete process plans for any given solid model. The plans are then evaluated and optimized using a specially designed multi-objective best first search technique. The complete approach enables a concurrent and efficient manufacturability analysis tool that closely resembles real manufacturing planning practice. Numerous case studies with real engineering parts are presented to characterize the novelty and contributions of this approach. The optimality of the suggested plans is verified through computational comparisons, and the practicality of the plans is validated with hands-on implementations on the shop floor.