To detect errors or find potential for improvement during the CAD-supported development of a complex technical system like modern industrial machines, the system’s virtual prototype can be examined in virtual reality (VR) in the context of virtual design reviews. Besides exploring the static shape of the examined system, observing the machines’ mechanics (e.g., motor-driven mechanisms) and transport routes for the material transport (e.g., via conveyor belts or chains, or rail-based transport systems) can play an equally important role in such a review. In practice it is often the case, that the relevant information about transport routes, or kinematic properties is either not consequently modeled in the CAD data or is lost during conversion processes. To significantly reduce the manual effort and costs for creating animations of the machines complex behavior with such limited input data for a design review, we present a set of algorithms to automatically determine geometrical properties of machine parts based only on their triangulated surfaces. The algorithms allow to detect the course of transport systems, the orientation of objects in 3d space, rotation axes of cylindrical objects and holes, the number of tooth of gears, as well as the tooth spacing of toothed racks. We implemented the algorithms in the VR system PADrend and applied them to animate virtual prototypes of real machines.

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