Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Purdue engineers design ’shape-search’ for industry databases

31.03.2004


Engineers at Purdue University are developing a system that will enable people to search huge industry databases by sketching a part from memory, penciling in modifications to an existing part or selecting a part that has a similar shape.



"It’s like a special kind of Google that lets you search for parts based on their three-dimensional shapes," said Karthik Ramani, a professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Purdue Research and Education Center for Information Systems in Engineering, or PRECISE.

Company databases are sometimes so vast that employees are often unable to find a specific part, meaning a new part must be created from scratch.


"You are looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack," Ramani said. "You have to remember that product variety and complexity have increased drastically.

"Just a single commercial airliner has more than a million unique parts. Such a search method could save millions of dollars annually by making it unnecessary to design parts anew and enabling you to mine for other knowledge, such as past decisions regarding costs and design advice about the part."

The method will be detailed in a research paper to be presented Thursday (4/1) during the 20th International Conference on Data Engineering in Boston, sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Computer Society. The paper was written by Ramani, doctoral student Kuiyang Lou and Sunil Prabhakar, an assistant professor of computer science.

"We take a 3-D model of a part and convert it into a bunch of small cubes called voxels, which stands for volume elements," Ramani said.

The system uses complex software algorithms to convert the voxels into a simplified "skeletal graph" based on "feature vectors," or numbers that represent a part’s shape.

"Like our skeleton, it represents the bare bones of a part’s shape and features, such as how many holes it contains and where the holes are located," Ramani said.

People can select an inventoried part that resembles the desired part and ask the system to find a "cluster" of like parts. Users also can sketch the desired part entirely from memory, or they can choose a part that looks similar from the company’s catalog and then sketch modifications to that part. The system then assists in finding the desired part.

Not only will the system enable employees to find parts, but it will provide access to valuable background about how the part was produced, including details about machining and casting, which, in turn, provides information about how much it costs to make the part.

"Corporate memory is short," Ramani said. "People leave, managers come and go. They forget file names and project names. This type of system allows you to retrieve your own company’s knowledge, your own company’s history.

"Let’s say there are 1.3 million parts in your inventory. If you are trying to design a part and you can find something similar that was produced in the past that has a lot of value."

Design engineers spend about six weeks per year looking for information on parts, he said.

"The shape-search system will allow engineers to cut this time down by as much as 80 percent," Ramani said.

A series of experiments in which people used the system to find parts showed that it has an accuracy of up to 85 percent.

Findings being discussed during the conference deal with information about how the system indexes parts. The indexing represents parts on various levels of sophistication, ranging from the skeletal graphs to more complex, detailed information.

"It’s very much like how you would index a book," Ramani said. "You take the geometry of the part, extract its features and then index it."

The system retrieves a group of parts that resemble the sketch entered into the search.

"Then we allow a person to tell the system which ones are the closest matches," Ramani said. "And as a result of that feedback, which we call relevance feedback, the system begins to understand a little bit more about what you are looking for and it starts focusing on that."

Simplifying parts into skeletal graphs is a critical factor that makes the shape-search system possible. The system also allows the user to fine-tune the search to specify aspects such as whether a part was created by casting or machining.

"So the search takes place through multiple representations of the part in a multistep process, which is very important," Ramani said. "This is not a simple, single-step approach that others have tried.

"We have created the first engineered-part search system. It takes into account the many design and production steps involved in making parts."

Relevance feedback requires algorithms that use "neural networks," or software that mimics how the human brain thinks.

"What you want to do is bridge the gap between what’s in your head, your idea of what the part looks like, and what’s in this huge inventory of parts," Ramani said. "That is not a trivial problem."

Experiments showed that the accuracy of the multistep search strategy was an average 51 percent higher than a single-step search.

The system is not quite ready for commercialization.

"We have solved significant problems, but there are remaining challenges," Ramani said.

The engineers are working with Zygmunt Pizlo, an associate professor of psychological sciences at Purdue, to help improve the system by incorporating information about human perception.

"Working with a psychology expert will help us design experiments aimed at bridging the gap between the human being and the system," Ramani said. "We are putting a lot of effort into improving the human interface."

The work has been funded by the Indiana 21st Century Research and Technology Fund, created by the state to promote high-tech research and development and to help commercialize innovations.

A patent has been filed, and a private company, Imaginestics Inc., in the Purdue Research Park, has agreed to license the technology.

Writer: Emil Venere, (765) 494-4709, venere@purdue.edu
Source: Karthik Ramani, (765) 494-5725, ramani@ecn.purdue.edu
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu
Note to Journalists: An electronic or hard copy of the paper is available from Emil Venere, (765) 494-4709, venere@purdue.edu. Karthik Ramani will be out of town April 9-17. Journalists may obtain his cell phone number by contacting Venere.

Emil Venere | Purdue News
Further information:
http://news.uns.purdue.edu/html4ever/2004/040330.Ramani.shape.html

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano
20.10.2017 | Brown University

nachricht New software speeds origami structure designs
12.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Single nanoparticle mapping paves the way for better nanotechnology

24.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A quantum spin liquid

24.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Antibiotic resistance: a strain of multidrug-resistant Escherichia coli is on the rise

24.10.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>