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A Formal Methodology for Smart Assembly Design

Kris Downey, Brigham Young University
Presented June 15, 2001 at the ADCATS 2001 Conference

In an era of global competition, there is increasing pressure on companies to reduce design cycle times while simultaneously improving product quality. Designers continually search for ways to improve their designs so that they are more reliable when variation arises. One design method for achieving a quality part when variation occurs is robust design. Many methods of robust design have been developed and implemented in industry. All of the methods control or reduce sensitivity to variation, but do not completely eliminate it.

In this research a new design method is proposed which is complementary to other robust design methods. This method is called smart assembly. A smart assembly has features, not otherwise required by the function of the design, which allow the design to absorb or cancel out the effects of variation. Smart assemblies create a means of variation absorption that can be used when other methods of robust design are inadequate or too expensive to implement.

This research will begin the development of a formal smart assembly design methodology. Principles of smart assembly will be inferred from design examples found in products of industry. Case studies will be reviewed and examined from a smart assembly point of view. Relevant and proven assembly analysis methods such as screw theory and tolerance analysis will be adapted to the methodology. The results that are produced by these analytical tools will provide useful information that will be combined with the inferred design principles. Once the methodology is developed, it will be applied to several case studies to demonstrate its ability to be used in almost any mechanical design application. This will also illustrate the positive outcome of the results.

Kris Downey is currently pursuing a MSME degree at Brigham Young University. He is conducting research under Dr. Alan Parkinson in the field of smart assembly design.

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