Saturday, January 23, 2010

Rapid Manufacturing

Another concept of Rapid Prototyping is Rapid Manufacturing (RM). RM is the direct production of products using Rapid Prototyping technologies. The thought of being able to eliminate tooling and moulding costs for certain parts of your product has been of interest to companies for some years now. However at the moment there are several limitations with RP and RP components including speed, mechanical properties, surface finish and repeatability. Saying this there have been several good examples of RM in recent years and many involving the automotive industry. WilliamsF1 are a long-term user of SLA. They use it to build parts to test in their wind tunnel, but RM has also proved beneficial. For example after one of the races in the 2005 championship, Williams had to redesign the hydraulic and electrical cables under the driver’s legs. The problem was that the clips used to hold down these cables no longer fitted and there wasn’t time to get a new set moulded. So Williams used their SLA machine to build them. They concluded that the mechanical strength of these clips were strong enough and could be used in the future. Another good example of RM is in the hearing aid industry. Hearing aids can now be made to fit the exact shape of a person’s ear.

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