The use of ontologies for information sharing is well documented in the literature, but the lack of a comprehensive and systematic methodology for constructing product ontologies has limited the process of developing ontologies for design artifacts. In this paper we introduce the Product Family Ontology Development Methodology (PFODM), a novel methodology to develop formal product ontologies using the Semantic Web paradigm. Within PFODM, Formal Concept Analysis (FCA) is used first to identify similarities among a finite set of design artifacts based on their properties and then to develop and refine a product family ontology using Web Ontology Language (OWL). A family of seven one-time-use cameras is used to demonstrate the steps of the PFODM to construct such an ontology. The benefit of PFODM lies in providing a systematic and consistent methodology for constructing ontologies to support product family design. The resulting ontologies provide a hierarchical conceptual clustering of related design artifacts, which is particularly advantageous for product family design where parts, processes, and most important, information is intentionally shared and reused to reduce complexity, lead-time, and development costs. Potential uses of the resulting ontologies and FCA representations within product family design are also discussed.

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