Due to rising demands in efficiency of design and manufacturing of industrial products, collaboration and exchange between designers and process planners is a permanent challenge. In an industrial survey carried out as part of this research, all participants emphasized the lack of collaboration and cooperation between designers and process planners. Although evolving CAD, CAM, CAPP and PLM tools provide the backbone for such cooperation and collaboration, additional structured supporting tools and processes are still required. This paper presents a holistic approach and supporting software tools for closing the knowledge gap and capitalizing on available manufacturability knowledge. Two complementary tools have been developed and implemented to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of product and process design. The first is CAMA (Computer Aided Manufacturability Analysis), a system for capturing available “know how” and providing designers easy and effective insight regarding the manufacturability of their design. The system has been designed to facilitate upstream manufacturability validation and identification of areas of a design that are difficult, expensive or impossible to machine. The second tool is a process plan evaluator expert system tool capable of evaluating alternative process plans. The insight enabled by the evaluation is then also fed back to the designer and to CAMA, thus further initiating organizational learning.

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