Variational design for a structural family of CAD models

Qiang Zou, Qiqiang Zheng, Zhihong Tang, Shuming Gao

Variational design is a well-recognized CAD technique due to the increased design efficiency. It often presents as a parametric family of CAD models. Although effective, this way of working cannot handle design requirements that go beyond parametric changes. Such design requirements are not uncommon today due to the increasing popularity of product customization. In particular, there is often a need for designing a new model out of an existing structural family of models, which share a structural pattern but have individually varied detail features. To facilitate such design requirements, a new method is presented in this paper. The idea is to express the underlying structural pattern in terms of a submodel composed of the maximum common design features of the family, and then to build a single master model by attaching to the submodel all detail design features in the family. This master model is a representative model for the family and contains all the features. By removing unwanted detail features and adding new features, the master model can be easily adapted into a new design, while keeping aligned with the family, structurally. Effectiveness of this method has been validated by a series of case studies and comparisons of increasing complexity.

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