This paper describes a system for the design and production of sheet metal parts. We have identified some important features for the bent sheet parts. These features are automatically generated as the design progresses. To search for the optimal process plans, we convert the features into heuristics to guide the search; furthermore, we convert some features into constraints as a prior knowledge to prune the search space. The applications of these features are presented. The potential feature interaction problems are also discussed in the paper.

We have designed over sixty test parts with our ``Parallel Design'' system. After the design is complete, our automatic process planning system uses the features and generates new ones to aid the production of a near-minimum manufacturing cost plan. Finally, these plans are used to produce parts on an automatic bending system.

Once a plan is produced, it can be used to produce the part, and to provide feedback to design and other factory systems. Several key manufacturing problems are considered and the result of planning is used to resolve these problems.

C.-H. Wang and D. A. Bourne, ``Design and Manufacturing of Sheet Metal Parts: Using Features and Their Constraints to Aid Process Planning and to Resolve Manufacturability Problems,'' Submitted to Robotics and Computer-Integrated Manufacturing, July, 1995.