Rapid prototyping takes virtual designs from computer aided design(CAD) or animation modeling software, transforms them into thin, virtual, horizontal cross-sections and then creates each cross-section in physical space, one after the next until the model is finished. It is aWYSIWYG process where the virtual model and the physical model correspond almost identically.
With additive fabrication, the machine reads in data from a CAD drawing and lays down successive layers of liquid, powder, or sheet material, and in this way builds up the model from a series of cross sections. These layers, which correspond to the virtual cross section from the CAD model, are joined together or fused automatically to create the final shape. The primary advantage to additive fabrication is its ability to create almost any shape or geometric feature.
The standard data interface between CAD software and the machines is the STL file format. An STL file approximates the shape of a part or assembly using triangular facets. Smaller facets produce a higher quality surface.
The word “rapid” is relative: construction of a model with contemporary methods can take from several hours to several days, depending on the method used and the size and complexity of the model. Additive systems for rapid prototyping can typically produce models in a few hours, although it can vary widely depending on the type of machine being used and the size and number of models being produced simultaneously.
Some solid freeform fabrication techniques use two materials in the course of constructing parts. The first material is the part material and the second is the support material (to support overhanging features during construction). The support material is later removed by heat or dissolved away with a solvent or water.
Traditional injection molding can be less expensive for manufacturing polymer products in high quantities, but additive fabrication can be faster and less expensive when producing relatively small quantities of parts.
Mainly there are 4 main technologies used for rapid prototyping.
|Prototyping technologies||Base materials|
|Selective laser sintering (SLS)||Thermoplastics, metals powders|
|Fused deposition modeling (FDM)||Thermoplastics, eutectic metals.|
|Laminated object manufacturing (LOM)||Paper|
But 2 more are there
|Electron beam melting (EBM)||Titanium alloys|
|3D printing (3DP)||Various materials
A youtube video on RP.
Read more on RP, Go to RP home page >>>
from these technologies the RPM in the University of Moratuwa use the Stereolithography technique with the use of a UV reactive photo polymer.
The RPM in University of Moratuwa can produce models with the maximum dimensions of 25,25,25 cm in volume. The machine is in the Engineering Design Center at the University of Moratuwa, and anyone interested or want a job to be done, can call the Design center and ask for shedules and prices.