The paper discusses the evolution of product information exchange from point-to-point exchange of geometry between computer-aided design tools through today’s suite of tools and processes of computer-aided product development (CAPD) to the future fully integrated computer-aided product realization (CAPR) process. The categories of processes and the layers of information exchange are reviewed. The current practice in product information exchange, the relevant information exchange standards, and near-future plans for improvements are presented. The major recent demands on more comprehensive product information exchange are discussed in terms of the exchange of nongeometric information and support of feature-based design, knowledge-based engineering, and management of product variety. Two conceptual frameworks for the support of CAPD and CAPR, representative of current research, are briefly sketched. Finally, a conceptual model of product information exchange is presented so as to define the range of implementation and standardization paths that may be taken in the future.

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