An Object-Oriented System for Engineering Polymer Information

Spedding, Vanessa (1995). An Object-Oriented System for Engineering Polymer Information. MPhil thesis The Open University.



Issues arising from the development of a computer-based information system for engineering polymer data have been explored.

The system was designed with the aim of providing a user-independent representation of engineering polymers that would organise the data pertaining to them and be amenable to extension and evolution to allow for new materials and new properties.

A classification of engineering polymer materials was developed to provide the structure for the representation, and an existing computer information system was modified in order to accommodate it. The classification was designed to create and order classes of similar materials to enable easy access to their information. Criteria for grouping material grades into families and families into a hierarchy were assessed. Existing polymer classifications were analysed; several alternative approaches to the factoring process are described.

The final taxonomy was implemented within the object-oriented information system POISE, written in the language Smalltalk 80TM. Inherent in the system is a facility to support browsing of general class information. Other tools developed during the course of the project allow the addition and positioning of new classes, grades, properties and data and searching for grades by property value or name.

It was shown that a classification based on criteria of similar chemical structure is a prerequisite for extensibility. Also demonstrated was that no such classification will consistently group together grades that are similar in respect of all of their physical and engineering property data for the uses of engineering designers.

A detailed analysis of the properties used to describe grades of engineering polymer gave an insight into the above dichotomy. To accommodate the resulting conflict, the polymer information system was enhanced to incorporate an orthogonal factoring at the grade level in addition to that already created by the final classification based on chemical families.

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