Product development is a process with complicated procedures, which incorporate many aspects of knowledge, experience and teamwork. Specifically, mechanical system design requires an iterative process to determine the desired component design parameters that would satisfy kinematic, performance and manufacturability requirements, which would result in an efficient and reliable operation of speed reduction units. This article describes an approach towards the development of intelligent design support environments for mechanical transmission systems, along with implementation details of a distributed knowledge-based gearing design and manufacturing system that is deployed over the Internet. The system embodies the various tasks of the design process, with modules that address: performance evaluation, process optimization, manufacturability analysis, and provides reasoning and decision-making capabilities for reducing the time between gear tooth creation, detailed design and final production. This methodology is highly desirable in that it is able to simulate real working conditions, evaluate and optimize the design effectively, prevent designers from time-consuming iterations and reduce long and expensive test phases. In an application example relating to process design of a forged gearing system, once a successful power rating is achieved within the design environment through FEA based techniques, the system automatically feeds input parameters into the manufacturing module which carries out all process design and planning stages. Estimation of the number of preforming stages, generation of detail die drawings, and forging load and energy requirements are calculated based on available material design databases, knowledge-based rules and feature-level calculations. Utilization of the World Wide Web, as a medium for the implementation of gear design and its agile manufacturing over the Internet is also being demonstrated. A combination of HTML, JavaScript, VRML, CGI Script and C++ based procedures is used to bring this capability to users distributed anywhere in the world. With the above developments, the problems of experience and expertise for the designers are overcome and unexpected design iterations that cause wastage of engineering time and effort, are avoided. The environment can be easily enhanced with other types of gearing systems.

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