Starting with the motivation to provide manufacturing feedback to designers and to reduce bottlenecks in the design-manufacturing transition, algorithms for constructing molds and dies are presented. The concept of “virtual manufacturing” serves as the umbrella for this work. Computational prototypes, rather than hardware prototypes, can greatly speed product development, process design, and process tooling development. The work presented here contributes directly to all three areas, since automated tool construction enables accurate, detailed Design-for-Manufacturing feedback to aid product development, enables process design through simulation, and provides an initial tool design that can be enhanced by a tool fabricator.
A series of algorithms are presented for the automated construction of tools from a purely geometric reasoning viewpoint. Starting with a solid model of a component, undercuts are found and classified, then moving tool sections are constructed. For external undercuts, accessibility directions are found and are used to construct tooling side actions. Automated undercut accessibility determination has not been previously previously reported in the literature. For internal undercuts, form pins are constructed that access the undercut through the core of the tool. Undercut classification is important since their cost implications can be reported back to the component designer during design. Two examples illustrate the application of the algorithms.