Shape representation and recognition is an important topic in many applications of computer vision and artificial intelligence, including character recognition, pattern recognition, machine monitoring, robot manipulation and production part recognition. In this paper, a structural model based on boundary information is proposed to describe the silhouette of planar objects (especially machined parts). The structural model describes objects by a set of primitives, each of which is represented by three geometric features: its length, curvature, and relative orientation. This representation scheme not only compresses the data, but also provides a compact and meaningful form to facilitate further recognition operations. Based on this model, the object recognition is accomplished by using a multilayered feedforward neural network. The proposed model is transformation invariant, which offers the necessary flexibility for real-time implementation in automated manufacturing systems. In addition, the numerical results for a set of ten reference shapes indicate that the matching engine can achieve very high success rates using short recognition times.