The application of rapid prototyping (RP) techniques in investment casting offers an economical alternative to traditiona! methods. Basically, RP has concentrated on the expendable pattern requirement with two different approaches. The first is to use the output of the RP system directly as the expendable pattern. The second alternative is to use the RP piece in the production of wax injection tooling. The elimination of some of the steps involved in these procedures would drastically reduce lead times and fabrication costs. The industrial objective of the project will be the direct fabrication of ceramic shells. By using stereolithography techniques where a suspension consisting of ceramic powder is dispersed within an ultraviolet-curable solution, the ceramic suspension will be photocured, layer by layer, fabricating a sintered ceramic shell, after the binder has been removed. The development of a new process technology capable of manufacturing cerarmic shells for prototypes or production requirements, faster, at a lower cost and maintaining a high degree of quality, will undoubtedly enable European foundries to remain competitive against Pacific Rim manufacturers offering products using lower labour and capital equipment costs.
Funding SchemeEAW - Exploratory awards
WA4 5DS Altrincham - Cheshire