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Research Papers

Validation of Function Pruning Rules Through Similarity at Three Levels of Abstraction

[+] Author and Article Information
Benjamin W. Caldwell

Clemson Engineering Design Applications and Research (CEDAR) Lab,Department of Mechanical Engineering, Clemson University,Clemson, SC 29634–0921

Gregory M. Mocko1

Clemson Engineering Design Applications and Research (CEDAR) Lab,Department of Mechanical Engineering, Clemson University,Clemson, SC 29634–0921gmocko@clemson.edu

1

Corresponding author.

J. Mech. Des 134(4), 041008 (Apr 04, 2012) (10 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4006264 History: Received October 01, 2010; Revised February 11, 2012; Published March 28, 2012; Online April 04, 2012

Function modeling is often used in the conceptual design phase as an approach to capture a form-independent purpose of a product. Previous research uses a repository of reverse-engineered function models to support conceptual-based design tools, such as similarity and design-by-analogy. These models, however, are created at a different level of abstraction than models created in conceptual design for new products. In this paper, a set of pruning rules is developed to generate an abstract, conceptual-level model from a reverse-engineered function model. The conceptual-level models are compared to two additional levels of abstraction that are available in a design repository. The abstract models developed through the pruning rules are tested using a similarity metric to understand their usefulness in conceptual design. The similarity of 128 products is computed using the Functional Basis controlled vocabulary and a matrix-based similarity metric at each level of abstraction. A matrix-based clustering algorithm is then applied to the similarity results to identify groups of similar products. A subset of these products is studied to further compare the three levels of abstraction and to validate the pruning rules. It is shown that the pruning rules are able to convert reverse-engineered function models to conceptual-level models, better supporting design-by-analogy, a conceptual-stage design activity.

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Copyright © 2012 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figures

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Figure 1

Similarity of all products at abstraction levels (a) One, (b) Two, and (c) Three

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Figure 2

Similarity of a vacuum cleaner to all other products in the repository at three levels of abstraction

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Figure 3

Similarity and clustering of subset of products at abstraction levels (a) One, (b) Two, and (c) Three, and (d) the random level of abstraction

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Figure 4

Similarity between shopvac and coffee makers at three levels of abstraction

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Figure 5

Similarity between shopvac and flashlights at three levels of abstraction

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Figure 6

Similarity between shopvac and vacuum cleaners at three levels of abstraction

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Figure 7

Average similarity between shopvac and three product types at three levels of abstraction

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