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  1. Abstract In this paper, we present a decentralized approach based on a simple set of rules to schedule multi-robot cooperative additive manufacturing (AM). The results obtained using the decentralized approach are compared with those obtained from an optimization-based method, representing the class of centralized approaches for manufacturing scheduling. Two simulated case studies are conducted to evaluate the performance of both approaches in total makespan. In the first case, four rectangular bars of different dimensions from small to large are printed. Each bar is first divided into small subtasks (called chunks), and four robots are then assigned to cooperatively print the resulting chunks. The second case study focuses on testing geometric complexity, where four robots are used to print a mask stencil (an inverse stencil, not face covering). The result shows that the centralized approach provides a better solution (shorter makespan) compared to the decentralized approach for small-scale problems (i.e., a few robots and chunks). However, the gap between the solutions shrinks while the scale increases, and the decentralized approach outperforms the centralized approach for large-scale problems. Additionally, the runtime for the centralized approach increased by 39-fold for the extra-large problem (600 chunks and four robots) compared to the small-scale problemmore »(20 chunks and four robots). In contrast, the runtime for the decentralized approach was not affected by the scale of the problem. Finally, a Monte-Carlo analysis was performed to evaluate the robustness of the centralized approach against uncertainties in AM. The result shows that the variations in the printing time of different robots can lead to a significant discrepancy between the generated plan and the actual implementation, thereby causing collisions between robots that should have not happened if there were no uncertainties. On the other hand, the decentralized approach is more robust because a collision-free schedule is generated in real-time.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  2. Abstract Customer preference modelling has been widely used to aid engineering design decisions on the selection and configuration of design attributes. Recently, network analysis approaches, such as the exponential random graph model (ERGM), have been increasingly used in this field. While the ERGM-based approach has the new capability of modelling the effects of interactions and interdependencies (e.g., social relationships among customers) on customers’ decisions via network structures (e.g., using triangles to model peer influence), existing research can only model customers’ consideration decisions, and it cannot predict individual customer’s choices, as what the traditional utility-based discrete choice models (DCMs) do. However, the ability to make choice predictions is essential to predicting market demand, which forms the basis of decision-based design (DBD). This paper fills this gap by developing a novel ERGM-based approach for choice prediction. This is the first time that a network-based model can explicitly compute the probability of an alternative being chosen from a choice set. Using a large-scale customer-revealed choice database, this research studies the customer preferences estimated from the ERGM-based choice models with and without network structures and evaluates their predictive performance of market demand, benchmarking the multinomial logit (MNL) model, a traditional DCM. The results showmore »that the proposed ERGM-based choice modelling achieves higher accuracy in predicting both individual choice behaviours and market share ranking than the MNL model, which is mathematically equivalent to ERGM when no network structures are included. The insights obtained from this study further extend the DBD framework by allowing explicit modelling of interactions among entities (i.e., customers and products) using network representations.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  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).
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2023
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2023
  5. Suweis, Samir (Ed.)
    Statistical network models have been used to study the competition among different products and how product attributes influence customer decisions. However, in existing research using network-based approaches, product competition has been viewed as binary (i.e., whether a relationship exists or not), while in reality, the competition strength may vary among products. In this paper, we model the strength of the product competition by employing a statistical network model, with an emphasis on how product attributes affect which products are considered together and which products are ultimately purchased by customers. We first demonstrate how customers’ considerations and choices can be aggregated as weighted networks. Then, we propose a weighted network modeling approach by extending the valued exponential random graph model to investigate the effects of product features and network structures on product competition relations. The approach that consists of model construction, interpretation, and validation is presented in a step-by-step procedure. Our findings suggest that the weighted network model outperforms commonly used binary network baselines in predicting product competition as well as market share. Also, traditionally when using binary network models to study product competitions and depending on the cutoff values chosen to binarize a network, the resulting estimated customer preferences canmore »be inconsistent. Such inconsistency in interpreting customer preferences is a downside of binary network models but can be well addressed by the proposed weighted network model. Lastly, this paper is the first attempt to study customers’ purchase preferences (i.e., aggregated choice decisions) and car competition (i.e., customers’ co-consideration decisions) together using weighted directed networks.« less
  6. Abstract In engineering systems design, designers iteratively go back and forth between different design stages to explore the design space and search for the best design solution that satisfies all design constraints. For complex design problems, human has shown surprising capability in effectively reducing the dimensionality of design space and quickly converging it to a reasonable range for algorithms to step in and continue the search process. Therefore, modeling how human designers make decisions in such a sequential design process can help discover beneficial design patterns, strategies, and heuristics, which are essential to the development of new algorithms embedded with human intelligence to augment the computational design. In this paper, we develop a deep learning-based approach to model and predict designers’ sequential decisions in the systems design context. The core of this approach is an integration of the function-behavior-structure (FBS) model for design process characterization and the long short-term memory unit (LSTM) model for deep leaning. This approach is demonstrated in two case studies on solar energy system design, and its prediction accuracy is evaluated benchmarking on several commonly used models for sequential design decisions, such as the Markov Chain model, the Hidden Markov Chain model, and the random sequencemore »generation model. The results indicate that the proposed approach outperforms the other traditional models. This implies that during a system design task, designers are very likely to rely on both short-term and long-term memory of past design decisions in guiding their future decision-making in the design process. Our approach can support human–computer interactions in design and is general to be applied in other design contexts as long as the sequential data of design actions are available.« less
  7. 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.