Rapid Design Through Virtual and Physical Prototyping

Project Summary

Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, and Stanford in collaboration with their industrial and government partners have joined in a consortium for rapid design and generation of parts and assemblies through the transformation of virtual prototypes into physical prototypes. They are building an experimental system using the Internet to enable students in design courses and engineers at partner companies to use rapid prototyping services. They will bring together rapid virtual and physical prototyping technologies to create a network of interconnected services to support the rapid design, test, and manufacture of mechanical, electro-mechanical, and electronic products.

With the proposed prototyping environment, a user will be able to design, test, and debug a product before it is built. Once a virtual prototype is finished, the design can be sent directly for manufacturing on one or more of the available and developing rapid prototyping technologies. Initially, the research will focus on designing and manufacturing mechanical parts such as those that would be designed by students in a senior-level design class. Building on the expertise and facilities of the participants, the network will later be expanded to include electro-mechanical and electronic designs. The long term research goal is to create a prototyping environment that integrates traditional electronic simulation and software prototyping environments with the mechanical prototyping environment.

One goal of this research in prototyping is to allow automatic, rapid generation of parts by exploring the mapping from the design description to the manufacturing plan; that is, the transformation from the description of the virtual prototype to a plan for manufacturing the physical prototype. To test the level of process understanding, the rapid prototyping services will be made available remotely over the Internet. If designers from remote sites can use the rapid prototyping services with confidence, the research goals will have been achieved.

The following results are anticipated from the proposed research:

Last modified: February 21, 1996 by bill.chan@cs.cmu.edu