This paper describes our proposed methodology for process selection that applies to the early stages of product design. We focus on net-shape manufacturing processes and identify the major factors that affect the selection of an appropriate process. The sequence at which designers typically make decisions depends largely on the nature of the product and the development environment. Thus, a versatile methodology should consider all the factors simultaneously in assessing the suitability of the candidate processes. The paper describes three types of knowledge that represent the compatibility of various processes to a given set of specifications: a) Case-based knowledge, i.e., templates of good, bad, and poor combination of decisions, b) Ordinal relationships among candidate processes based on interval analysis of cost, and c) Life-cycle cost estimate. Each type of knowledge gives an evaluation of suitability (compatibility) of candidate processes. Our future challenge lies in combining these measures at various stages of product development. Our initial studies on relationships between process selection and influencing factors lead to a HyperCard stack which stores information in an object-oriented fashion. This stack contains information which is the basis for our future computer-aid for process selection.

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