Seamless integration of manufacturing planning activities, though being imperative for application of advanced technologies, is still not completely developed. Integration between design and manufacturing systems is usually done within tightly implemented suite of CAD/CAM applications. However, there is a need to integrate these applications into a wider framework in which manufacturing knowledge is incorporated into planning tasks, and tasks may be executed in distributed environment. This paper proposes such a framework. The methodology is based on integration of CAM software with rule-based process planning on several levels. The basis for this approach is existence of feature based CAD model that is usually designed in CAD package. The process-planning task can be performed in two modes: traditional mode and distributed mode. In traditional mode, tightly integrated CAM package is used to create necessary tool paths and detailed specification for particular geometry from the design. They are exported into a CAPP package for cost optimization and sequencing for the final NC program. Distributed mode allows utilization of rule base for creation of manufacturing operations. Results are imported into CAM package for tool path generation and NC code post processing. CAD/CAM package exports its feature into rule-based process planning system. For each feature, rules are fired in order to select the most appropriate machining operation, tool, and cutting parameters. Process sequencing can also be performed. In both modes, integration may be carried out between different computers using TCP/IP protocol to enable distributed processing of different tasks. The current results in implementing the prototype, which supports proposed methodology and few test cases of both operating modes, are also described.

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