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  1. Conceptual design is the foundational stage of a design process that translates ill-defined design problems into low-fidelity design concepts and prototypes through design search, creation, and integration. In this stage, product shape design is one of the most paramount aspects. When applying deep learning-based methods to product shape design, two major challenges exist: (1) design data exhibit in multiple modalities and (2) an increasing demand for creativity. With recent advances in deep learning of cross-modal tasks (DLCMTs), which can transfer one design modality to another, we see opportunities to develop artificial intelligence (AI) to assist the design of product shapes in a new paradigm. In this paper, we conduct a systematic review of the retrieval, generation, and manipulation methods for DLCMT that involve three cross-modal types: text-to-3D shape, text-to-sketch, and sketch-to-3D shape. The review identifies 50 articles from a pool of 1341 papers in the fields of computer graphics, computer vision, and engineering design. We review (1) state-of-the-art DLCMT methods that can be applied to product shape design and (2) identify the key challenges, such as lack of consideration of engineering performance in the early design phase that need to be addressed when applying DLCMT methods. In the end, we discuss the potential solutions to these challenges and propose a list of research questions that point to future directions of data-driven conceptual design. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Data-driven generative design (DDGD) methods utilize deep neural networks to create novel designs based on existing data. The structure-aware DDGD method can handle complex geometries and automate the assembly of separate components into systems, showing promise in facilitating creative designs. However, determining the appropriate vectorized design representation (VDR) to evaluate 3D shapes generated from the structure-aware DDGD model remains largely unexplored. To that end, we conducted a comparative analysis of surrogate models’ performance in predicting the engineering performance of 3D shapes using VDRs from two sources: the trained latent space of structure-aware DDGD models encoding structural and geometric information and an embedding method encoding only geometric information. We conducted two case studies: one involving 3D car models focusing on drag coefficients and the other involving 3D aircraft models considering both drag and lift coefficients. Our results demonstrate that using latent vectors as VDRs can significantly deteriorate surrogate models’ predictions. Moreover, increasing the dimensionality of the VDRs in the embedding method may not necessarily improve the prediction, especially when the VDRs contain more information irrelevant to the engineering performance. Therefore, when selecting VDRs for surrogate modeling, the latent vectors obtained from training structure-aware DDGD models must be used with caution, although they are more accessible once training is complete. The underlying physics associated with the engineering performance should be paid attention. This paper provides empirical evidence for the effectiveness of different types of VDRs of structure-aware DDGD for surrogate modeling, thus facilitating the construction of better surrogate models for AI-generated designs.

     
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  3. Abstract In this paper, we present a predictive and generative design approach for supporting the conceptual design of product shapes in 3D meshes. We develop a target-embedding variational autoencoder (TEVAE) neural network architecture, which consists of two modules: (1) a training module with two encoders and one decoder (E2D network) and (2) an application module performing the generative design of new 3D shapes and the prediction of a 3D shape from its silhouette. We demonstrate the utility and effectiveness of the proposed approach in the design of 3D car body and mugs. The results show that our approach can generate a large number of novel 3D shapes and successfully predict a 3D shape based on a single silhouette sketch. The resulting 3D shapes are watertight polygon meshes with high-quality surface details, which have better visualization than voxels and point clouds, and are ready for downstream engineering evaluation (e.g., drag coefficient) and prototyping (e.g., 3D printing). 
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  4. Abstract

    Conceptual design is the foundational stage of a design process, translating ill-defined design problems to low-fidelity design concepts and prototypes. While deep learning approaches are widely applied in later design stages for design automation, we see fewer attempts in conceptual design for three reasons: 1) the data in this stage exhibit multiple modalities: natural language, sketches, and 3D shapes, and these modalities are challenging to represent in deep learning methods; 2) it requires knowledge from a larger source of inspiration instead of focusing on a single design task; and 3) it requires translating designers’ intent and feedback, and hence needs more interaction with designers and/or users. With recent advances in deep learning of cross-modal tasks (DLCMT) and the availability of large cross-modal datasets, we see opportunities to apply these learning methods to the conceptual design of product shapes. In this paper, we review 30 recent journal articles and conference papers across computer graphics, computer vision, and engineering design fields that involve DLCMT of three modalities: natural language, sketches, and 3D shapes. Based on the review, we identify the challenges and opportunities of utilizing DLCMT in 3D shape concepts generation, from which we propose a list of research questions pointing to future research directions.

     
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  5. Abstract There are three approaches to studying designers – through their cognitive profile, design behaviors, and design artifacts (e.g., quality). However, past work has rarely considered all three data domains together. Here we introduce and describe a framework for a comprehensive approach to engineering design, and discuss how the insights may benefit engineering design research and education. To demonstrate the proposed framework, we conducted an empirical study with a solar energy system design problem. Forty-six engineering students engaged in a week-long computer-aided design challenge that assessed their design behavior and artifacts, and completed a set of psychological tests to measure cognitive competencies. Using a machine learning approach consisting of k-means, hierarchical, and spectral clustering, designers were grouped by similarities on the psychological tests. Significant differences were revealed between designer groups in their sequential design behavior, suggesting that a designer's cognitive profile is related to how they engage in the design process. 
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  6. null (Ed.)