Feature Recognition for Smart Design and Manufacture

Feature Recognition for Smart Design and Manufacture

ERPE researchers invented a feature recognition technology, now incorporated in the Pathtrace EdgeCAM Solid Machinist Computer Aided Manufacture (CAM) package. EdgeCAM is a leading product, with 10–15% of the world market. Feature recognition in shape representation has also enabled the design of a 3D shape browser for product data management systems, now commercialised as ShapeSpace Ltd.

Advances in feature recognition for parts machining was motivated by industry’s need to create a faster, more efficient and robust CAM system. ERPE research was critical to the development of the CAM machinist feature finder functionality. The Software Development Manager, Vero UK (Planit's parent company) says: "This work brought Solid Machinist to market quicker and some of the algorithms are still in use today. The technology was part of the reason why Planit PLC bought Pathtrace in 2006, as the vital part of the functionality in EdgeCAM was the principal product."

EdgeCAM Solid Machinist uses automatic feature recognition [1] to interrogate the solid model and quickly identify machinable features. "The ERPE research provided the building blocks of the software used by our core customers in industries such as aerospace, automotive, energy and medical sectors. From a position where 7 years ago, 20% of our customers used the software, to approximately 65% of our customers using the software today demonstrates that the technology meets customer needs more closely." Senior Manager at EdgeCAM.

ShapeSpace was originally designed to aid location of product-related data in large file systems and intranets. The 3D shape browser [2] permits engineers to search for product data within their management systems or databases, via the associated part shapes. "One of the most costly overheads of 3D CAD design and modeling is the creation of stock parts. ShapeSpace makes searching for these, sometimes mislaid, parts a fast and intuitive process and has already saved me hours spent recreating already existing models…We model shapes in 3D so what better way to search for them than in 3D!" Senior Design Draughtsman, Chemring EOD Ltd.

A major innovation was the development of shape based search methods to support human computer interaction [3]. This led to the ShapeSpace partnering with Actify Inc., on an initial two year contract with Jaguar Land Rover, for the supply of product status tracking software for all new vehicle programs in development. This enabled the opening of a joint Edinburgh office and Shapespace has been further selected by Boeing, for commercial trial deployment, following an international competitive evaluation.

[1] Lim, T., Corney, J. and Clark, D.E.R, "Laminae-Based Feature Recognition", IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, Vol. 23, No. 9, pp. 1043-1048, 2001. DOI:10.1109/34.955117

[2] Naish, J., Mill, F. and Salmon, J, "An Industry-based Study of Cutting Process Capability: Representation Requirements for an Integrated Simultaneous Workstation", Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE) Transactions, Vol. 29, No. 7, pp. 573-584, 1997. DOI:10.1023/A:1018501530306

[3] Clark, D.E., Corney, J.R., Mill, F., Rea, H., Sherlock, A. and Taylor N.K. "Benchmarking Shape Signatures against Human Perceptions of Geometric Similarity", Computer Aided Design Journal, Vol. 38, No. 9, pp. 1038-1051, 2006. DOI:10.1016/j.cad.2006.05.003

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Monday, 5 May, 2014 - 11:51