Servizio Comunitario di Informazione in materia di Ricerca e Sviluppo - CORDIS

Desktop manufacturing: the next industrial revolution

The report 'Desktop Manufacturing. The next industrial revolution' is a useful tool for industries who want to invest in rapid prototyping techniques (RPT) in the future.
The software which has been developed is among the best available on the market today and has already been commercialized.

Both sand casting and lost wax casting have been successfully demonstrated using RPT models. Computer numerical control (CNC) milling will be quicker, cheaper and more accurate for very simple models. For complex models, however, sand casting is beneficial even for 1 copy. Sand casted parts of relatively small sizes and with uncomplicated shapes as well suited for manufacturing with RPT processes. There are benefits in both time and cost and sometimes also in quality. Lost wax casting parts can be made directly in RPT processes. The disadvantage is that the RPT model is destroyed and only 1 copy in metal is acquired. Some of the advantages are lost if a wax mould is made instead. The procedure is, however, a safe way to manufacture a small series of metal parts. More complex parts will be more beneficial.

Rotational copper cast, tartan tool, electroforming, metal spraying with copper, compressing graphite powder, abrading and electrical conductive polymer have been developed and/or tested to manufacture electrodischarge machining (EDM) electrodes incorporating RPT. The 2 techniques, rotational copper cast and tartan tooling met industrial needs satisfactorily. The other techniques have some limitations such as accuracy and surface quality of the RPT pattern. They limit the application to prototype tools. Additionally, all techniques may be used only for a limited range of workpieces. Another critical point is the commercial efficiency because of the many process steps which are needed. There are certain advantages in producing EDM electrodes from a RPT pattern. The selection of the technique should, however, be made carefully. Concerning moulds and dies, a feasibility study has been made on compressing powder. The results obtained so far are promising. Silicon moulding has been tested and a technique for direct tooling for injection moulding has been developed. A process chain to manufacture sheet metal forming tools has been developed and successfully tested. In the specific testcase 'Cover for marine lamps' a tremendous time reduction during hard prototyping was realized.

Today, the RPT knowledge centres established in the project have a valuable knowledge of how to build high quality RPT parts and how to use RPT in creative design and in product and production development.

Reported by

Danish Technology Institute
Teknologiparken
8000 Aarhus C
Denmark