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Rapid prototyping of tools
journal contributionposted on 1989-01-01, 00:00 authored by Lee Elliot. Weiss
Abstract: "This report describes a system for rapid tool manufacturing based on the integration of stereolithography and thermal spraying. With stereolithography apparatus (SLA), plastic prototype models are built directly from a vat of liquid photocurable polymer by selectively solidifying it with a scanning laser beam. Thermal spraying is then used to incrementally deposit metal onto the SLA models. A freestanding metal structure is formed by separating the metal shell from the plastic substrate. By mounting the shell in a frame and backing it up with appropriate materials, a broad range of tooling can be fabricated including injection molds, forming dies, and EDM electrodes.The system integrates SLA and thermal spraying into a CAD/CAM environment which includes design evaluation tools, robotic spray capability, and computer-aided process planning. Information flows efficiently from design through fabrication by incorporating a common geometric modeling system for part and process representations. Our goal is to demonstrate that automating and integrating these processes, within a unified modeling environment, can significantly improve productivity through greater design flexibility, rapid fabrication, and cost reduction. We have established the system framework and developed several system components. This report describes a case-study for the application of this technology to injection mold manufacture."