An international standard (ISO 10303) has been created to facilitate the exchange of product models between diverse computer-aided design (CAD) systems. Informally known as STEP (standard for the exchange of product model data), this specification has been under development since the mid 1980s, and parts of it were approved as international standards beginning in 1994. Efforts to expand STEP to meet the needs of the shipbuilding industry have been in work for many years and are nearing completion. By early 2003, it is expected that four application protocols to facilitate the transfer of information relating to ship structures, piping, and heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning will have been approved as international standards and become part of the overall STEP standard. This article discusses the successful efforts to expand STEP to meet the needs of the shipbuilding industry, as well as outlining the various implementation and testing projects that have been undertaken to ensure the validity and success of these new standards.

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