In Functional Modelling, the user describes a proposed design in terms of functional primitives such as 'shaft' and 'crank'. These terms carry the same shape information as the more traditional solid modelling terms 'cylinder' and 'lamina', but in addition they carry information about what the part is intended to do. The goal of Functional Modelling is to build a modeller which can analyse the design in terms of the function which each part is intended to carry out, and select suitable dimensions for the parts so that the design works as expected.
A computerised Functional Modeller will carry out much of this simple analysis quite automatically, and adjust dimensions where necessary. It will therefore give enhanced confidence in the viability of a design, as well as allowing the designer to explore many more candidate concepts in depth before selecting the best one for further development.
A prototype functional modeller is currently being constructed at the Cambridge University Engineering Design Centre.
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