The industrial objective of the proposed RTD is to provide SME manufacturers of GRP and pressed steel panels with a rapid prototyping process, enabling them to reduce the costs and elapse time for prototyping vehicle body parts. This will enable SMEs in the car, truck, bus and rail sector supply chains to integrate further into their customers' design process, helping them to acquire preferred supplier status, by adding value to their service, rather than compete on price alone. This will also strengthen their competitive position against lower cost base component suppliers from the Pacific Rim and former Eastern Bloc counties and create the opportunity to export an entirely new form of prototyping technology into a global market. To achieve this, a number of technical objectives must be met, relating to the development of an RP system that incorporates the following elements: A fixed position, two part epoxy spray head. A compact 6 axis workpiece manipulator, mounted on a linear table. A novel programmable, conformable spray pad, constructed from pneumatic valves and pins, beneath a silicon membrane. Software for the generation of a 'patchwork' surface pattern, composed of sub-sections that integrate to form a complete surface for the component to be prototyped. The code for which would be based on the architecture and algorithms already used to generate build files from 3D CAD geometry, for existing RP processes. Software for the generation of NC code to integrate the motion of the 6 axis manipulator and the conformable pad, to enable edge blending between the surface model's sub-sections.
Funding SchemeEAW - Exploratory awards