Design for Environment

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Vig Kalyanasundaram

Design for Environment (DfE) is rapidly gaining importance as a vital component of the design processes in various industries. However, there is still room to push environmental consciousness upstream in the design cycle towards the designer. Simultaneously, standards for environmentally responsible design are rapidly changing with the developments in sustainable development technologies. Given the near universal adoption and maturity of Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software in the market today, the prospect of integrating flexible sustainable design tools with CAD software packages promises a more efficient design cycle in terms of cost, effort, time and eco-friendliness.

Sophisticated material management softwares are used in several design teams and these typically contain information relevant to substance content, assembly and the material characteristics of the various parts in a model. PLM systems also typically contain process information for the manufacture of the various parts. This information can be leveraged to develop tools that allow a designer to quickly estimate the environmental impact of a product on the fly with reasonable accuracy so as to allow for more eco-friendly designs on the first iteration with minimal additional effort. The goal of the project is to develop design tools that will estimate sustainability characteristics of designs based on recyclability, remanufacturability and environmental costs of production by leveraging information available through PLM systems with user input.

The project attempts to describe the requirements, methodologies and the data models required for the development of these tools with a focus on reducing user interference and effort while aiding designers to incorporate DfE principles in their designs. The paper also discusses augmentations to the information models in PLM systems and to design cycles to facilitate more functionality and accuracy in these tools.