Intelligent Product Design: Intelligent CAD

Intelligent Product Design: Intelligent CAD

Zude Zhou (Wuhan University of Technology, China), Huaiqing Wang (City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong) and Ping Lou (Wuhan University of Technology, China)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-864-2.ch010
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CAD (Computer Aided Design) is almost instead of classical designing method which drawing plan on paper nowadays. With the development of information technology, the traditional CAD technology becomes rather matured and is developing towards a modern direction of being further integrative, intelligent, and collaborative, namely ICAD (Intelligent CAD). ICAD is a complex system consist of multi agents or multi experts to design product. It can simulate expert in this area to help designer accomplish design. ICAD is based on some technology such as artificial intelligence, CAD technique, expert systems technique, modern mechanical design theory and database technique. In this chapter, the reason of ICAD proposing is given firstly, then some research and application is described on the second sector. Thirdly, some theory and technique about ICAD is discussed. Finally, a case study is presented.
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Inevitability of ICAD

Design is an important activity in human’s realization and reform of the world, and all the creativity by human beings derive from the design. The aim of the product’s design is to make sure the function of the product and establish a system of good function, low cost, proper price, etc, which play a decisive role in the technology and beneficial result of the product. Especially in the market economy environment, design is the key to win, and it plays an important role in the development of national economy.

From globalization to mass customization, several trends are affecting the development of CAD and manufacturing tools. Globalization is exerting an influence on the development of CAD. Companies' running, competition and markets have gone global, and in response, CAD is taking on more functionality and allowing for increasing collaboration demand between departments.

The major inevitability of ICAD is discussed as follows.


Sending jobs to foreign locations continues to be a prevalent and highly controversial-trend. It's driven by such factors as increasing globalization, the ubiquity of high-speed Internet connections and the rising pressure to increase corporate profits. In fact, in the CAD world, most developers have already placed software teams in India and/or Russia to handle research, development and support. And along with manufacturing, data processing and call center jobs, companies are also taking high-tech engineering design and development work. For example, multidiscipline engineering design and drafting, software development and CAD processing are among the new jobs being outsourcing. By 2015, business analysis firm Forrester Research expects some 3.3 million high-tech and service jobs to be transplanted from the U.S. to other countries.

Increasing Collaboration

Because more companies are choosing to shift operations offshore, sharing data is becoming a greater priority. This has contributed to the trend toward collaboration as a management approach, and as a result, CAD vendors have been charged with the task of incorporating tools that can help different departments work together. “It's a very big challenge to build in ways to tie in other people,” Robert Kross, vice president of Autodesk's Manufacturing Solutions Division, tells Design News. “Traditionally, our tools are for technical people who are full time users. Collaboration means we have to tie in other people, financial people and others who aren't doing design every day. That adds to the challenge, but it's a necessary component for today's business.”

Mass Customization

Companies are now placing more emphasis on reducing inventory costs and applying just-in-time manufacturing, a strategy that is paving the way for the mass customization of products. Many firms are no longer producing huge quantities of the same product store in many warehouse which manufacturers did just five years ago. Instead they're tailoring products to meet customers' specific needs in order to become more competitive.

Popularity of 3D Modeling

More and more engineers are making the switch from 2D software to 3D modeling. In particular, solid modeling-which depicts product designs via electronic 3D solid models-is taking off. Not only do solids give engineers more design flexibility, they also offer realistic images of products and allow downstream tasks, such as analysis, to be more easily integrated. What's more, solid modeling supports a decades-long push by the CAD industry to give manufacturing customers “art-to-part” capabilities-bringing a design from the concept to the tooling stage in a completely digital world. By implementing a purely digital process, manufacturers can foster more effective communication between departments, make better products and enjoy greater profits due to a speedier time to market.

Widespread use of Neutral Formats

An increasing number of companies are exchanging information with one another using non-CAD formats, including Adobe's PDF (portable document format), Autodesk's DWF (design web format) and SolidWorks' EDRW (eDrawings). Although translating a CAD file into a non-CAD format may seem an unnecessary step, two developments are driving this trend. Firstly, increasing globalization of manufacturing is leaving many companies susceptible to the theft of intellectual property. In response, many are refraining from releasing native CAD files and taking the precaution of employing a data format that will prevent information theft. Secondly, while digital signatures are now legally binding, many companies still doubt their effectiveness and are thus using representations that can't be edited.

In the 1970s, CAD system adopted the model which based on small machine. In the 1980’s, CAD was based on the working station which lied separated, and it accelerated the progress greatly year after year. In the 1990’s, CAD had a development as follows:

  • 1.

    The hardware of CAD developed into a PC from the workstation. The colorful vision system and accelerate card has become the common equipment of working station and PC.

  • 2.

    Various methods of model description has appeared, and gradually become standard. The research and realization of database have become more and more important. The integration system based on design has become more and more available and popular.

  • 3.

    CAD technology gradually becomes intelligent, which makes the CAD system quite agile, easy-dealing, efficient and creative.

CAD can increase the speed and quality of the design, so that it can obviously effect on the economy. If we can combine the design, produce, craft processing with management to go on the integrated process, the efficient and quality of the product can make a great progress. The two stones in the way of traditional CAD system application are: the lack of intelligence and the integration in the application environment. The research of intelligence and integration is an urgent problem to be solved in the next generation of CAD system. It demands that the CAD system can provide a support (the integration of system and knowledge) to the designer, and have a description of unique and common data, that is an integration of expression model, and it should have the intelligence to find out the error and to answer the questions and give suggestions.

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