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2000 Conference Presentations

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Smart Assemblies

Alan R. Parkinson, Brigham Young University
Presented June 16, 2000 at the ADCATS 2000 Conference

Smart assemblies is a new research area in variation management. It involves robust design, which means designs that can tolerate variation. A smart assembly has features, not otherwise required by the function of the design, which allow the design to cancel or absorb variation. A passive smart assembly requires external adjustment or setting, for example, by using a jig or fixture. Passive smart assemblies are usually set at the factory, but may also be adjustable in the field, as when you have the wheels aligned on your car. An active smart assembly can automatically adapt itself to variation which changes over time.

Although passive assemblies are widely used in industry, they have not, for the most part, been incorporated by design researchers into a general strategy of robust design. Current robust design methods seek to minimize the effects of noise, but do not eliminate it altogether. Smart assemblies complement these methods in that they can further reduce variation which is not susceptible to reduction by other methods.

The purpose of this research is to explore the use of smart assemblies to control or eliminate variation. Smart assemblies currently in use will be surveyed and classified. Principles of design will be deduced. The use of smart assemblies will be placed within the context of a general robust design strategy, and new ways of developing smart assemblies will be explored.

BS ME BYU 77, MS and PhD U of Illinois 82.
Currently serving as Department Chair of the Mechanical Engineering Dept. at BYU. Joined the faculty at BYU in 1982. Founder of Design Synthesis, an independent consulting and software development company. A principal developer of the OptdesX optimization software. This software has been used by several hundred companies to improve products they design and produce. The software has been applied to the design of automobiles, high performance tires, safety restraint systems, engines, aircraft systems, heat transfer design, water distribution systems, control devices, power generation equipment and structures, to name a few examples.


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