In this paper, we present “FabSearch,” a prototype search engine for sourcing manufacturing service providers, by making use of the product manufacturing information (PMI) contained within a 3D digital file of a part product. FabSearch is designed to take in a query 3D model, such as the .STEP file of a part model which then produces a ranked list of job shop service providers who are best suited to fabricate the part. Service providers may have potentially built hundreds to thousands of parts with associated part 3D models over time. FabSearch assumes that these service providers have shared shape signatures of the part models built previously to enable the algorithm to most effectively rank the service providers who have the most experience to build the query part model. FabSearch has two important features that helps it produce relevant results. First, it makes use of the shape characteristics of the 3D part by calculating the Spherical Harmonics signature of the part to calculate the most similar shapes built previously be job shop service providers. Second, FabSearch utilizes metadata about each part, such as material specification, tolerance requirements to help improve the search results based on the specific query model requirements. The algorithm is tested against a repository containing more than 2000 models distributed across various job shop service providers. For the first time, we show the potential for utilizing the rich information contained within a 3D part model to automate the sourcing and eventual selection of manufacturing service providers.

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