M. S. Thesis Abstract

Concept Development of a Product Design Algorithm: An Aid to Increase Design Productivity

John McCullough

March 1992

It has been well recognized that the design process is extremely iterative and tedious. Despite the fact that quality products can be designed with experience, confusion often occurs between designers and manufacturers. These factors contribute to increased production cost and development time. In this thesis, current trends in design methodologies were examined, and a new methodology to reduce production cost and development time was proposed.

This computerizable methodology, called the Design Characterization Language (DCL), would help the designed in realizing design specifications and communicating them to the manufacturer. Some other functions of the DCL would be to remove some of the tedious work from the designer by performing database searches based on design specifications, to help generate design variations, to manage design decisions between analysis packages to provide a more concurrent design approach, to help evaluate design feasibility and practicality, and to emphasize design for manufacture and assembly. Two practical examples were chosen for illustrating the concept; namely, a custom-designed CCD camera, and a disposable camera. The CCD camera was used to describe the general functions of the DCL, and the disposable camera provides a more detailed look at evaluation of assembly sequences and robotic assemblability.

A fully developed DCL algorithm would evaluate designs, based not only on geometry and functionality but also on ease of manufacture and assembly, and would provide a preferred solution to a design problem. The algorithm would utilize engineering descriptives for product characterization, perform weighted cost function evaluation of the product, provide database access to design data and knowledge, and generate design variations. Using these concepts, the DCL algorithm proposed would generate less costly designs faster than those generated by conventional design methodologies.