The modeling power of most mechanical CAD systems is limited to the creation and manipulation of topologically correct solids. Due to the lack of consideration for conceptual modeling, certain knowledge associated with a part design is either not captured, or its representation is incomplete. This inhibits the automation of subsequent analysis applications such as process planning. Furthermore, the software architectures of these CAD systems are designed primarily to serve the role of computer aided drafting. Consequently, these design environments fail to participate in the actual design process associated with mechanical part design.
This paper describes an effort directed towards designing and implementing a productive software development environment for intelligent mechanical design and manufacturing clients. The kernel of the system provides various functionalities to facilitate the development of these clients. These facilities emphasize the ability of each client to contribute and utilize knowledge that is essential for their successful operation. The development of such a knowledge based computing environment benefits from the work done in data modeling, semantic data modeling and knowledge representation. In this context, the utilization of the functional data model is demonstrated through a comprehensive example. A brief discussion on implementation of certain kernel functionality is included.