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Commercial and business issues in the e-sourcing and reuse of mechanical components

Rea, H. and Corney, J.R. and Clark, D. and Taylor, N.K. (2006) Commercial and business issues in the e-sourcing and reuse of mechanical components. International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, 30 (9-10). pp. 952-958. ISSN 0268-3768

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Abstract

Currently, tens of thousands of mechanical components that are produced worldwide are specified by 3D CAD models held in the archives of individual manufacturing companies. Emerging technologies from a number of research projects suggest it will soon be feasible to conduct global 'shape' searches on these collections. In principle such '3D-search engines' could revolutionise the sourcing of mechanical components and enable a vigorous market for the resale of existing production tooling. The commercial and business aspects of this emerging technology (i.e. 3D e-Sourcing) are studied in this paper. State-of-the-art part-sourcing is outlined and estimates of the potential benefits of reuse are discussed. The paper then outlines ownership issues of CAD/CAM data and tooling, and identifies barriers, both technical and business, to forms of 3D e-Sourcing which would enable secondary use. The paper identifies the ability to prohibit the physical production of publicly circulated 3D models as key to the viability of this trading system. Consequently the paper concludes with details of a proposed '3D model public licence' which is specifically designed to protect the IP of manufacturers while allowing 3D search engines to index components.