With the goal of making product recovery economically viable, disassembly sequence planning and evaluation can be used to influence product design features early in the product design process. Several researchers have investigated using optimization methods to determine disassembly sequences. One of the difficulties with using this approach is that because of the unique aspects of product disassembly at the end of life, input parameters for the optimization algorithms are commonly unavailable or estimated under high uncertainty. In practice, design engineers explore disassembly sequencing using either CAD software or manipulation of physical prototypes. These approaches produce solutions, but only intuitive solutions are explored and more optimal solutions may exist. To support decision making early in the design process, the research presented in this paper combines these two approaches within an immersive computing technology (ICT) application to aid in early product design with the goal of designing products with consideration of product recovery, reuse and recycle.
The ICT application displays both 3D geometry of the product to be disassembled and an interactive graph visualization of the potential disassembly paths. The user can naturally interact with the geometric models and explore the potential paths indicated by the graph visualization. The optimal path can be indicated and the user can explore other potential paths. The result is an application that combines the strength of mathematical modeling with visualization and human interaction to provide an experience where the user can explore potential effects of design decisions. The initial application has been implemented in a 3 wall immersive projection environment and preliminary results show this approach proves to be an efficient method of evaluating and training potential disassembly sequences.