Abstract

While fundamentals of DFMA are widely accepted and used in the engineering design community, many CAD environments lack tools that address manufacturing concerns and provide rapid feedback to designers about manufacturing impacts of their design choices. This paper presents an experiment-based testing and validation of a rapid feedback tool that provides users a history-based prediction of manufacturing time based on the current state of the design. A between-subjects experiment is designed to evaluate the impact of the tool on design outcomes based on modeling time, part mass, and manufacturing time. Participants in the study included mechanical engineering graduate and undergraduate students with at least one semester of experience using SolidWorks. The experiment included three different design activities and three different conditions of the design tool. Participants completed up to three sessions with different experimental conditions. Analysis of the data collected shows that use of the design tool results in a small but nonsignificant increase in modeling time. Moreover, use of the tool results in reduced part mass on average, as well as in a within-subject comparison. Tool use reduced manufacturing time in open ended activities, but increased manufacturing time when activities focus more on mass-reduction. Participant feedback suggests that the tool helped guide their material removal actions by showing the impact on manufacturing time. Finally, potential improvements and future expansions of the tool are discussed.

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