Rapid Manufacturing and Tooling is a fast growing area of development which has received considerable attention from various sectors of the industry over the past few years and is considered a key technology for the future. This is because of the great benefits that could be obtained through utilising Layer Manufacturing Technologies (LMTs), such as significant reduction in lead-time (up to 80%) and production costs (up to 50%). The main objectives of the project are: - to propose methods for optimising tool design and increasing the durability of tools through the application of engineering analysis and simulation. - to analyse and model the geometrical accuracy and surface roughness of tools fabricated by Stereolithography (SLA) and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS). - to investigate fabrication and post processing methods for direct production of tools. - to develop automated finishing processes for tools produced with LMTs and investigate their technological capabilities. - to identify the constraints of SLA and SLS technologies for rapid tool production in terms of part complexity, tool accuracy, durability and possible application areas. - to provide guidelines for better utilisation of LMTs for direct fabrication of tools. The main innovative aspects of this proposal include: - Development of a Concurrent Engineering (CE) approach for integration of part and tool design taking into account the specific characteristics of LMTs. - Investigation of dimensional accuracy and surface roughness of tools fabricated by SLA and SLS. - Improvement of the existing processes for direct production of tools with LMTs. - Development of automated finishing methods for tools produced with LMTs and investigation of their technological capabilities. - Systematisation of the acquired knowledge regarding direct production of tools with LMTs and development of a decision support system based on this knowledge. - Engineering analysis and simulation of the effects that downstream manufacturing processes have on tools produced with LMTs. The project consortium consists of 5 SMEs and 2 academic research institutes from 3 different EU countries. They arc either rapid prototyping/tooling service providers, users or researchers with complementary skills. The final result of the project will he a method for direct production of tools utilising LMTs, which integrates the different aspects of part design, tool design, direct fabrication of tools and their post processing. The method will first be tested by the development partners and then introduced into the production processes of the SMEs.
Funding SchemeCRS - Cooperative research contracts
CF24 3TE Cardiff
NP1 7PZ Abercarn