U.S. industry spends billions of dollars as a result of poor interoperability between computer-aided engineering software tools. While ongoing standards development efforts are attempting to address this problem in today’s tools, the more significant demand in next-generation tools will be for representations that allow information used or generated during various product development activities to feed forward and backward into others by way of direct electronic interchange. Although the next generation of tools has the potential for greatly increased benefits, there is also a potential for the cost of poor interoperability to multiply. The goal of this work is to develop representations of information that are unavailable in traditional CAD/CAM/CAE tools to support the exchange of product information in a distributed product development environment. This paper develops a vision of next-generation product development systems and provides a core representation for product development information on which future systems can be built.

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