Increased competition is forcing product realization to change: to become faster and to leverage facilities and expertise, wherever they may be. Geographically distributed engineers must collaboratively develop, build and test solutions to design-manufacture problems to be competitive in the global marketplace. Software systems to support design and manufacturing activities must continuously evolve to accommodate rapid acquisition and use of knowledge throughout a global manufacturing enterprise. Engineers must operate in a distributed system in which separate entities communicate cooperatively — ideas and information requests can be generated anywhere within the system, rapid turn-around is essential, and multiple projects must be handled simultaneously. Thus we want to provide a platform-independent framework to integrate distributed and heterogeneous software resources to support the computationally intensive activities in the product realization process. In this paper, we present a prototype platform-independent framework based on an experimental event-based communications model and describe its usage in a distributed product realization environment, the Rapid Tooling TestBed.

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