There are many challenges associated with the design and realization of fast changing highly customized products. One promising approach is to implement design for manufacturing (DFM) strategies aimed at reducing production costs without compromising product quality. For manufacturers doing business in a globally distributed market place, effective reuse and sharing of the DFM knowledge in a collaborative environment is essential. In recent years, ontologies are increasingly used for knowledge management in engineering. Here, ontology is defined as a formal specification of domain knowledge that can be used to define a set of data and structure that enables experts to share information in a domain of interest, to aid information reasoning, and to manage and reuse data. The primary goal of this paper is to put forward the process of ontology development and utilization for DFM and to study the most important phases in the process, including: the concept categorization and class hierarchy development, slot categorization and development, identification and realization of relations among slots, and methods to support knowledge capture and reuse. Four cases are presented to illustrate the promising use of a DFM ontology. These cases prove that the DFM ontology and the process of ontology development and utilization for the DFM can facilitate the reuse of existing data, find the inconsistency and errors in data, reduce the work associated with populating the knowledge base of the ontology, and help designers make decisions by considering complex technical and economical criteria.

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