Expert systems are best known for qualitative or heuristic reasoning capability. However, the design of high performance and critical mechanical components, such as automotive valve springs, requires that precise and quantitative issues be resolved. This paper discusses the extended use of an expert system shell for mechanical spring design automation. An expert system shell is utilized as a user friendly front end and a binding agent among system components. Building blocks of the complete system include a product information data base which is provided by commercial manufacturers, a dynamic modeling and simulation module which includes typical-applications models, an optimization module which uses simulated annealing algorithms, and a design specification generation module which produces production drawings and a design report. The basic methodology discussed in this paper can be applied to the design automation of other mechanical components.

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