During the product development stage, designers often face the task of partitioning a product into functioning parts. Unfortunately, most decomposition decisions are made based upon product functionality and product manufacturability, which is usually ignored. As a result, the decomposed parts can be too expensive to manufacture and are sometimes impossible to make. In this paper, we present a systematic approach to help designers decompose sheet-metal prod ucts. This approach takes into account the manufacturability of cutting, bending and assembly pro cesses, while trying to minimize the number of parts. To make this decomposition more tractable, a develop-first-decompose-later strategy is used. Inside the decomposition algorithm, there are three evaluation modules: part unfoldability, tool accessibility and product disassemblability. The system iteratively goes back and forth between the design and decomposition modules to achieve near-optimal results. The decomposition results are sent to these process planners and a complete production plan is produced. We have implemented a prototype system decomposing sheet-metal products.This system con sists of design and decomposition modules, as well as process planners for cutting, bending and assembly. A decomposition example is also presented.

C.-H. Wang and D. A. Bourne, ``Concurrent Decomposition for Sheet Metal Products'' to appear in ASME Design for Manufacturing Conference (ASME97-DETC), Sacramento, 1997.