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Integrated product data environment: data sharing across diverse engineering applications

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This paper presents our results with the development of the Integrated Product Data Environment (IPDE). The IPDE provides a database approach to the sharing of data between engineering design and analysis tools, serving as a repository for the input and output data associated with such tools. The IPDE goes beyond the functionality of current product data management tools in that it deals with product data at a semantic level using the STEP standard. In particular, we have extended the STEP concept of Units of Functionality (UoF's) to define the different types of logical sub-components that can existwithin a STEP exchange file. The IPDE is capable of recognizing UoF's so that users can extract only the relevant parts of a file, instead of checking in or checking out entire exchange files. Users can also combine UoF's from different files, together with relationships between UoF's, to create new exchange files. This paper describes the database framework that we have established for managing UoF's, elaborating on the manner in which we use the STEP standard to manage relationships between UoF's and the versions that are created as a result of the check-in/check-out facilities of the IPDE. We also address the data sharing issues that must be overcome in future versions of the IPDE to provide a more effective way of dealing with relationships between UoF's.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 1999

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