This paper presents a basic structure of an intelligent planning environment for automated dimensional inspection using coordinate measuring machines (CMMs). Three levels of automation technology, ranging from the facility automation to information and decision automation, are discussed. At the facility level, the operations of the CMMs are examined for the dimensional inspection of various manufactured objects. In this research the dimensional inspection of objects having complex and sculptured surfaces is emphasized. At the information level, a CAD-directed inspection system is implemented. The system is composed of three key elements: CAD/CMM inspection planning module, CAD model based localization algorithm, and comparative analysis module. In addition, the concept of inspection attributes is introduced. Inspection attributes are some pieces of information that are stored in the CAD database along with the design model for inspection application. Typical inspection attributes include functional tolerances and manufacturing capability. At the decision making level, an inspection planner is proposed in conjunction with the CAD directed inspection to provide links between the CAD/CMM system and inspection goal. The planner is a knowledge based system which utilizes artificial intelligence technologies to automate the decision making in inspection planning.

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