Welding is a consolidated technology used to manufacture/assemble large products and structures. Currently, welding design issues are tackled downstream of the 3D modeling, lacking concurrent development of design and manufacturing engineering activities. This study aims to define a method to formalize welding knowledge that can be reused as a base for the development of an engineering design platform, applying design for assembly method to assure product manufacturability and welding operations (design for welding (DFW)). The method of ontology (rule-based system) is used to translate tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge, while geometrical feature recognition with parametric modeling is adopted to couple geometrical information with the identification of welding issues. Results show how, within the design phase, manufacturing issues related to the welding operations can be identified and fixed. Two metal structures (a jack adapter of a heavy-duty prop and a lateral frame of a bracket structure) fabricated with arc welding processes were used as case studies and the following benefits were highlighted: (i) anticipation of welding issues related to the product geometry and (ii) reduction of effort and time required for the design review. In conclusion, this research moves forward toward the direction of concurrent engineering, closing the gap between design and manufacturing.
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