An investigation towards developing capability profiles of rapid prototyping technologies with a focus on 3D-printing

De Beer, Neal (2004-03)

Thesis (MEng)--University of Stellenbosch, 2004.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Rapid prototyping (RP) technologies have expanded vastly over recent years. With the advent of new materials along with new processes, each technology has been contributing to the diversities in different fields of application for the growing technologies. In the course of improvement, it is however critical to understand exactly what the capability of each individual technology is in order to compare future improvements, or even to compare current processes and technologies. The objective of this research has been to develop capability profiles of prominent RP technologies: 3D-Printing (3DP), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), and Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM) - in which different characteristics of each technology are measured and quantified. A capability profile may be regarded as a set of building blocks that give a representation of the RP technology's ability and is defined by quantifying the following characteristics: Accuracy (both dimensional- and geometrical accuracy) Surface finish measures Strength and elongation Build time, and Cost The significance behind developing capability profiles lies in the need to more accurately describe and compare each of the different processes - especially Z Corporation's 3DP, since although this process is regarded as very capable in many areas, little has been published to substantiate this opinion. When users of these technologies are pushing the limits of their machines, it becomes critical to know exactly what these boundaries are in order to know with some measure of certainty that they will be able to fulfil a certain customer demand or expectation. For South Africa in particular, the industry's growing interest in rapid prototyping is triggering inevitable questions as to whether a certain RP technology can produce the desired solutions to their problems. The South African industry's growing awareness about rapid prototyping is opening new doors for better solutions to new and existing problems - but ultimately, before investing money, customers want to know if RP is going to meet the standards needed to solve their solutions. On a more general level, this study can also be seen to bear significance in contributing to research in what has become known as rapid manufacturing (RM). This term is defined as the manufacture of end-use products using additive manufacturing techniques. RM must guarantee long-term consistent component use for the entire product life cycle or for a defined minimal period for wearing parts [1]. However, before it is possible to guarantee long-term consistency of components, one must first ensure consistency of the process. Once a process is consistent, the next question becomes: What is it capable of doing consistently? This study aims to answer this question for the three processes (3DP, SLS and LOM) mentioned earlier. In doing so, this study and its development of capability profiles, seeks to contribute and be of value in both academic circles as well as for industry partners and system manufacturers.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Snelle Prototipering (SP) tegnologieë het die afgelope jare ongelooflike groei ondervind. Met die ontwikkeling van nuwe materiale tesame met nuwe prosesse, het elke tegnologie bygedra tot 'n diversiteit in moontlike toepassings vir 'n verskeidenheid van velde. Met 'n mikpunt van aaneenlopende verbetering, is dit egter krities om te verstaan presies wat elke individuele tegnologie se vermoëns is. Dit maak dit dan moontlik om toekomstige verbeteringe te vergelyk, of om selfs huidige prosesse met mekaar te vergelyk. Die doel van hierdie navorsing was om vermoënsprofiele van prominente SP tegnologieë te ontwikkel: 3D-Printing (3DP), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) en Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM) - waarin verskillende karaktereienskappe van elke tegnologie gemeet en gekwantifiseer word. 'n Vermoënsprofiel mag beskou word as 'n stel boustene wat 'n weerspieëling gee van die SP tegnologie se vermoë en word gedefinieer deur die kwantifisering van die volgende karaktereienskappe: Akkuraatheid (beide dimensionele- en geometriese akkuraatheid) Oppervlakgehalte metings Treksterktes en verlengings Bou- of vervaardigingstye, en Kostes Die rede waarom dit belangrik is om vermoënsprofiele te ontwikkel berus by die behoefte om die verskillende prosesse met meer akkuraatheid te beskryf en te vergelyk - veral Z Corporation se 3DP. Alhoewel hierdie proses algemeen beskou word as baie bevoeg in vele areas, is min informasie al gepubliseer om hierdie opinie te ondersteun. Wanneer gebruikers van hierdie tegnologieë hul masjiene tot die limiete druk, begin dit krities raak om presies te weet wat daardie grense is, sodat hulle met 'n sekere mate van sekerheid sal kan sê of hulle sal kan voldoen aan kliënte se behoeftes of verwagtinge. Die Suid-Afrikaanse industrie se belangstelling in SP tegnologieë begin al hoe meer groei, en daarmee saam, begin vrae ontstaan tot watter mate snelle prototipering wel werkbare oplossings kan produseer vir hul probleme. Hierdie groeiende bewustheid van die Suid-Afrikaanse industrie begin dus ook nou nuwe paaie openbaar vir beide nuwe en ou probleme - maar uiteindelik, voordat kliënte egter bereid sal wees om geld te belê, sal hulle wil weet of snelle prototipering die standaarde gaan behaal wat nodig sal wees om juis hierdie oplossings te verwesenlik. Op 'n meer breë vlak, beoog hierdie studie om ook 'n bydrae te maak in die groeiende navorsingsveld van snelle vervaardiging (SV). Hierdie is 'n term wat gedefinieer word as die vervaardiging van endgebruiker produkte, met die benutting van byvoegings-vervaardigings tegnieke. SV moet versekering bied vir komponente se werkverrigting op die lange duur vir die hele produk se lewenssiklus, of ten minste vir 'n gedefinieerde minimale tydperk in die geval van slytasie-parte [1]. Maar voordat dit moontlik sal wees om hierdie versekering te bied, moet mens eers die versekering kan bied van 'n proses se werkverrigting. Wanneer die prosesse betroubaar en deurlopende resultate lewer, word die volgende logiese vraag gestel: Wat presies, is hierdie proses in staat om betroubaar te lewer? Hierdie studie beoog om juis hierdie vraag te beantwoord vir die drie prosesse (3DP, SLS en LOM) wat vroeër genoem is. Dienooreenkomstig, met die ontwikkeling van vermoënsprofiele van hierdie prosesse, behoort hierdie studie van waarde te wees vir beide akademici, sowel as industrie-lede en vervaardigers van SP tegnologieë.

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