Internet technology opens up another domain for building future CAD/CAM environment. The environment will be global, network-centric, and spatially distributed. In this paper, we present a new approach to network-centric virtual prototyping (NetVP) in a distributed design environment. The presented approach combines the current virtual assembly modeling and analysis technique with distributed computing and communication technology for supporting virtual prototyping activities over the network. This paper focuses on interoperability, shape representation, and geometric processing for distributed virtual prototyping. STEP standard and CORBA-based interfaces allow the bi-directional communication between the CAD model and virtual prototyping model, which makes it possible to solve the problems of interoperability, heterogeneity of platforms, and data sharing. STEP AP203 is utilized as a means of transferring and sharing product models. In addition, Attributed Abstracted B-rep (AAB) is introduced as 3D shape abstraction for transparent and efficient transmission of 3D models and for the maintenance of naming consistency between CAD models and virtual prototyping models over the network. Further, this paper discusses geometric processings needed for distributed virtual prototyping activities such as collision detection and interactive assembly modeling.

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