Prototype systems

The prototype systems are presented on the Design Conference 2006. The paper entitled “A BOTTOM-UP APPROACH FOR AUTOMATED SYNTHESIS SUPPORT IN THE ENGINEERING DESIGN PROCESS: PROTOTYPES” is included in the proceedings.

The abstract of the paper is given below, together with the enlarged screenshots of the prototypes. In the proceedings, these are in black and white.


Dubrovnik - Croatia, May 15 - 18, 2006.


W.O. Schotborgh, H. Tragter, F.G.M. Kokkeler, F.J.A.M. van Houten


Developments in the modern world lead to ever-increasing pressure on the industrial engineering design process. Companies compete to deliver products to the market at a higher pace than ever before, putting stress on the design process itself as deadlines move closer and closer, but quality demands remain.

In the engineering design process without computer support, the amount of knowledge and experience of the engineers determine the design speed and ultimately the quality of the solution. The currently available CAD support focuses mainly on analysis and optimization, leaving the critical process of finding a solution proposal to human designers.

The paper presents prototypes of a new type of CAD tool which automatically generate, evaluate and improve multiple solutions. It allows the designer to explore a detailed solution space, providing insight in the possibilities and constraints of a design. The information available in the solution space is identical with the level of detail of existing analysis methods such as well-known engineering formulas, computer simulations and finite element analysis. This makes it especially suitable for use in industrial environments, since it directly incorporates the levels of abstraction and available engineering knowledge.

Previous research yielded a number of prototypes that are well-defined in functionality and each with a specific domain. They are used in this paper to illustrate several key features of automated synthesis support.

First, the engineering design process with currently available CAD support is discussed in more detail. Next, the general methodology of automated synthesis support is presented followed by several prototypes to demonstrate typical features. Finally, conclusions as well as several future research topics are given.

This paper shows the feasibility of a bottom-up approach to successfully develop design tools.

4. Automated synthesis support tools: prototypes

Click on the images for a large version of the screenshots.

4.1. The spring designer

4.2. WATT: Synthesis of mechanisms

4.3. The composite designer

4.4. Remaining prototypes