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Lecture No-2 Rapid Prototyping Technology (RPT)


In this age of fast growth (rapid technology age), customer demands are increasing rapidly.
Customers do not like to wait. The traditional processing time needs to be shortened. It is a
Buyers market today, instead of a Sellers market as it used to be in the past. In the quest for
fast manufacturing, all non-productive times need to be eliminated. The traditional method
involves time loss on concept designing, manufacturing, assembly and testing. For example, in
case of a foundry, lot of time is spent on pattern designing, making, getting the casting done and
then evaluating its performance. This initially involves designing and redesigning, until a
satisfactory product is developed, which is a very slow process. In order to get this time
recovered, to overcome the slow trend and grow up with the requirements of the next generation,
the most logical answer to the future of design and manufacturing is the Rapid Prototyping
Technology (RPT).


Rapid prototyping (RP) is a technology wherein the physical modeling of a design is done using
a specialized machining technology. The systems used in rapid prototyping quickly produce
models and prototype parts from three-dimensional (3D) computer aided design (CAD) model
data, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan data and such data created from 3D digitizing
systems. Using an additive approach for building shapes, the systems in RP join different
materials like liquids or powder to form some physical objects. Layer by layer, the RP machines
fabricate these powdered ceramic, wood, plastic and metal powders using very small and thin
horizontal cross sections of the generated computer model. Rapid prototyping is an emerging
technology, the definition of which is derived from the key concept - making it rapid. Rapid
prototyping is creating a profound impact on the way companies produce models, prototype
parts, and tooling. A few companies are now using it to produce final manufactured parts. It is
believed that rapid prototyping shall occupy a major share in manufacturing techniques in the
years to come.
Steps in RPT

Creation of the CAD model of the (part) design,
Conversion of the CAD model into Standard Tessellation Language (STL) format,
Slicing of the STL file into thin sections,
Building part layer by layer,
Post processing/finishing/joining.

Major RP Technologies:

1. Photo Masking or Solid Ground Curing technique.
2. LOM (Laminated Object Manufacturing)
3. SLA (Stereolithography)
4. FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)
5. SLS (Selective Laser Sintering)
6. Thermo J et Process
7. 3D Printing
8. Ballistic Particle Manufacturing (BPM)

1. Photo masking or Solid Ground Curing :

A mask is generated by electro-statically charging a glass plate with negative image of cross
section of the required part. In the meantime, a thin liquid polymer is spread across the surface of
the work-plane. The mask plate with a negative image of the liquid polymer is positioned over
the thin polymer layer and exposed under the ultraviolet laser lamp for few seconds.

All parts of the exposed photopolymer layer get solidified with one exposure. However, the area
shaded by the mask is left in a liquid form and is wiped off with vacuum suction head and
replaced by hot wax which acts as a support to the solidified polymer layer. A face mill makes
the surface of wax and polymer flat and to desired thickness. All the above steps are repeated till
final model embedded in removable wax is obtained.

2. Lami

This tech
The sche
built up b
place wit
and cuts
needed to
make it
again. Th
plate mo
second ro
little cro
paper, th
for large

nated Obje
hnique is esp
ematic of an
ction. Severa
by pulling a
th a heated r
out the out
o cut throug
easier to bre
he sheet of
ves down, it
oller, pulling
sshatched c
hough acrylic
ct Manufac
pecially suit
n LOM setup
al such secti
a long, thin s
roller that ac
tline of that
gh a single l
eak away la
material is m
t leaves a ne
g a new sec
olumns are
c plastic she
ted for produ
p is shown i
ions when g
sheet of pre-
ctivates the
layer of th
layer of mat
ater. The ba
made signifi
eat rectangul
ction across
broken awa
eet, ceramic
ucing parts f
in Fig. 5.2.1
glued or wel
-glued mater
glue. Then a
he object. Th
terial. Then
se plate mo
ficantly wide
lar hole behi
the base pla
ay to free th
felts can be
from lamina
1. A laser be
lded yield th
rial across th
a laser beam
he laser inte
the rest of
oves down, a
er than the b
ind. This scr
ate. At the e
he object. T
e used. The
ated paper, p
eam cuts th
he prototype
he base plat
m is scanned
ensity is set
the paper is
and the who
base plate, s
rap material
end of the b
The material
LOM is par
plastic, meta
e contour of
e. The layer
te and fixing
d over the su
at just the
s crosshatch
ole process
so when the
l is wound o
build process
l used is us
rticularly sui
al etc.
f part
rs are
g it in
hed to
onto a
s, the

1. Stere

In this te
into large
the proto
laser bea
laser bea
liquid su
figure sh
to light, m

4. Fused

In this te
X and Y

Fig. 5.2.1 S
chnology, th
Under the i
er solid mol
otypes by tra
am. In the in
am is driven
urface so as t
table is low
hows a modif
masking the

Fig. 5
d Deposition
chnique, a s
Schematic o
hy (SLA):
he part is pro
nfluence of
lecules. The
acing the lay
nitial positio
n in X and Y
to make it s
wered furthe
fied design i
area which

5.2.2 Schem
n Modeling:
pool of therm
are controll
of the Lamin
oduced in a v
light of a sp
SLA machi
yer cross se
on the elevat
Y directions
solidified to
r. This is re
in which a c
remains liqu

matic of the S
moplastic fil
led by a com
nated Objec
vat containin
pecific wave
ine, whose s
ctions on th
tor table in
s by program
a designed
epeated until
ontact windo

Stereo litho
lament is fed
mputer so tha
ct Manufact
ng a liquid w
elength, smal
schematic is
he surface of
the vat is in
mme driven
depth (say,1
l the desired
ow allows th

graphic pro
d into a heat
at the exact o
turing proc
which is a ph
ll molecules
s shown in F
f liquid poly
n the top m
mirrors to s
1 mm). In th
d 3-D mode
he desired ar

ocess used in
ted FDM ext
outline of ea
ess in RPT
s are polyme
Fig. 5.2.2, cr
ymer pool w
ost position
sweep acros
he next cycle
el is created
rea to be exp

n RPT.
trusion head
ach section o
with a
. The
ss the
e, the
. The
d. The
of the

In this te
narrow, h
nozzle, o
support s
out a sim
the end o
object. T

5. Select

In this m
shown in
of liquid
e is obtained
ng hollow obj
echnique, th
heated nozzl
only to get h
structure is n
milar thread,
of the build
The FDM m
but generall

tive Laser S
method, a thi
ly fuse pow
n the Fig. 5.2
resin. Parts
ble powder.
it together
d. Each laye
jects. The sc
he object is
le that is mov
hardened aga
needed for ce
usually of a
d process, th
ethod produ
ly models ar
Fig. 5
Sintering (SL
in layer of p
dered mater
2.4. The CO
s are built up
. A beam o
. The platfo
er is bonded
chematic of t
made by sq
ved over the
ain immedia
ertain shape
different co
he support s
uces models
re made of A
5.2.3 Schem
powder is ap
rials, such as
laser is oft
pon a platfo
of laser then
orm is furth
d to the earl
the FDM is
queezing a c
e base plate.
ately as it to
s, and this is
olor in order
structure is b
that are phy
ABS plastic.
matic of the F
pplied using
s nylon, elas
en used to si
rm which si
n traces the
her lowered
lier by heati
shown in Fi
continuous t
The thread m
uches (and
s provided b
to make it e
broken away
ysically robu
FDM proces
g a roller. Th
stomers and
inter success
its just below
pattern on
by the heig
ing. This me
g. 5.2.3.
thread of po
melts as it p
sticks to) th
by a second
easier to dist
y and disca
ust. Wax ca
he SLS uses
metals into
sive layers o
w the surfac
the very fi
ght of the s
ethod is idea
olymer throu
asses throug
he layer belo
nozzle sque
tinguish them
arded, freein
an be used a

s a laser bea
a solid obje
of powder in
ce in a bin o
rst layer the
second layer
al for
ugh a
gh the
ow. A
m. At
ng the
as the
am to
ect as
of the
r and
powder i
amount o

6. 3-D S
In this sy
shape of
section o
bonded t
shown in
is again app
of powder at
ystem, in or
bottom of a
the cross-se
s and a new
of the model
o form the p
n Fig. 5.2.5.
plied. This
each layer h
g. 5.2.4 Sche
rder to build
a build box.
ction of the
layer of pow
l. Upon com
part, and som
process is
helps to supp
ematic of th
d a part, the
A binder is
model. The
wder is sprea
mpletion, the
me of which
continued u
port the part
he Selective
machine sp
then printed
bottom of th
ad. This pro
e build box
h remain loos
until the par
during its b
Laser Sinte
preads a sing
d onto each
he build box
ocess is repea
is filled wit
se. The step
rt is comple
ering proces
gle layer of
layer of po
x is then low
ated for ever
th powder, s
ps involved i
eted. The ex
powder ont
wder to form
ered by one
ry layer or c
some of whi
in the proces

to the
m the
ich is
ss are

7. Therm
This tech
can be us
the produ
with the
on all do

8. Ballis

which ge
droplet n
layer is f

mo Jet Proc
hnique uses
spread by ro
sed as sacrifi
uction of re
. Complex m
y short perio
system is th
ownward fac
are required
parts that w
stic Particle
M system u
et cold-welde
nozzle in X
formed, and
Fig. 5
an inkjet p
oller prior to
ficial patterns
elatively com
metal parts m
od of time. W
he requireme
ing surfaces
d to be clea
would other
uses piezo-dr
ed together o
and Y direc
a new layer
5.2.5 Schema
printing head
o application
s for investm
mplex castin
may be produ
Wax patterns
ent of a sup
s of the patte
aned by han
rwise requir
uring (BPM
riven inkjet
on a previou
ctions. The b
r is created
atic of the 3
d with a bin
n by a spray
ment casting
ngs without
uced from co
need to be f
port system
ern. Therefor
nd. This pro
re a signific
usly deposite
base-plate is
on the top o
3-D systems
nder materia
y gun. Wax p
. The main a
the need fo
omputer aide
finished to a
. The suppo
re, the suppo
ocess is bes
cant amount
m to shoot d
ed layer. A la
s lowered by
of the previo
al to bind ce
parts produc
advantage of
or a tooling
ed design (C
a high standa
ort system le
orts need to
t suited to
t of coring
droplets of
ayer is create
y a specified
ous one; fin

eramic and
ced in this sy
f the method
, and hence
CAD) model
ard. One pro
eaves undula
be removed
small numb
to accomm
molten mat
ed by movin
d distance a
nally the mod
d is in
e cost
s in a
d, and
ber of
ng the
fter a
del is


Rapid manufacturing may be considered as an extension of Rapid-Prototyping technology. It
involves automated production of parts by instructions directly fed by the CAD data which is
modeled earlier. Currently, only a few final products are prepared by these machines. This
technology is not suitable for mass production but for small batches and one-off production
articles, it is cheaper since no tooling is involved. Some of the final components that are
produced are: customized dinner-wares, helmets for individual heads (customized), jewellery
patterns, spark erosion electrodes and reverse engineering parts.
Applications of RPT:

It is mainly used in modeling, Product Design and Development,
Reverse Engineering applications,
Short Production Runs and Rapid Tooling,
In medical applications, RPT is used to make exact models resembling the actual parts of a
person, through computer scanned data, which can be used to perform trial surgeries,
RP techniques are used to make custom-fit masks that reduce scarring on burn victims,
Selective laser sintering (SLS) has been used to produce superior socket knees,
Very tiny, miniature parts can be made by electrochemical fabrication,
In jewelry designs, crafts and arts.

Future developments:

As the Rapid Prototyping Technology gets further advanced, it can lead to substantial
reduction in build-up time for manufacturing.
Further improvement in laser optics and motor control can improve the accuracy.
The development of new materials and polymers so that they are less prone to curing and
temperature induced warpages.
Much anticipated development is the introduction of non-polymeric materials including
metals, ceramics, composites and powder metallurgy.
Developments in ceramic composites can further increase the range of rapid prototyping.
Currently, the size is also a restriction; capability for larger parts shall be expected in the near
Currently, the demand is low and with the further technology advancement, awareness and
training, this can be increased.
Advancement in computing systems and viability to support net designs from a distant
country to be fed directly on the RP machines for manufacturing is a new possibility.

Limitations and Challenges ahead:

Unfamiliarity with the application of RPT exists. Therefore, its complete adaptability and
how exactly this new and advanced technology will be of help and is not known.
In view of high equipment cost, very few organizations can invest in these new machines.
Currently, RPT is more limited to modeling, specimen making and designing.
The RPT is at present limited to making of paper and plastic type products only.
Replacing steel by composites is still not easy and people fear its implications.
RP companies usually limit the marketing efforts and industry awareness; hence most
engineering and manufacturing professionals are not fully aware of the RP potentials.

The Fig. 5.2.6 indicates some common appliances, wherein the blades of fan, covers and
components of oven, projectors are made by the rapid manufacturing techniques.


Fig. 5.2.6 So

ome applica

ations of Ra

apid Manufa