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The development of an intelligent Web-based rapid prototyping manufacturing system

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2 Author(s)
R. C. Luo ; Nat. Chung Cheng Univ., Chia-Yi, Taiwan ; Jyh Hwa Tzou

A rapid prototyping (RP) machine system which combines a PC-based controller with the thermal-extrusion method is presented. The proposed RP system offers a three-axis platform, an extrusion head, a temperature controller, and a PC-based control system. Low-cost acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) pellets/powder are used for thermal extrusion, although the system is easily adapted to other not-too-dissimilar materials. In order to improve the quality of RP part, the Taguchi method was used to analyzing the process parameters of the proposed RP system. Based on the experimental results, the proposed RP mechatronics system can produce good quality RP parts. The RP software technique includes slicing, support, tool path, and motion code generation. This paper also presents a new adaptive slicing algorithm for RP system. According to this algorithm, the three-dimensional (3-D) computer-aided design (CAD) model can be sliced with different thickness automatically by comparing the contour circumference or the center of gravity of the contour with those of the adjacent layer. With this adaptive slicing method, the part can be fabricated faster than it uses uniform slicing method with identical accuracy. Finally, the intelligent web-based RP system allows remote users to upload an STL file, to directly building up of the physical model, and to monitor the actual fabrication process from a charged coupled devices (CCD) camera located in the RP machine itself. The user does not need to buy an expensive RP machine; instead, he can rent time and uses the machine remotely via the Internet.

Note to Practitioners-RP has being used as an essential augmented tool between CAD and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) for product manufacturing. RP uses layered manufacturing technology to produce complicated prototypes directly from a CAD model. As imaging, materials, and processing techniques improve, RP functions such as assembly fit, tooling masters, prototype tools, and prototype parts are made possible. RP technology that can construct parts of multiple materials, colors, and even parts composed of composite materials will soon be available. In this paper, an RP machine system which combines PC-based controller with thermal extrusion method is presented. Low-c- ost ABS pellets are used for thermal extrusion, although the system is easily adapted to other not-too-dissimilar materials. Based on the experimental results, the proposed RP mechatronics system can produce good quality RP parts. In this paper, a new adaptive slicing algorithm is developed to decrease fabrication time without much reducing the model accuracy. According to this algorithm, the 3-D CAD model can be sliced with different thickness automatically. With this adaptive slicing method, the part can be fabricated much faster than it uses traditional uniform slicing method. Finally, the intelligent web-based RP system has been developed which allows remote users to upload a CAD file of the part, direct building up of the physical model, and monitoring of the actual fabrication process from a CCD camera located in the RP machine itself. The greatest advantage is that user does not need to buy an expensive RP machine; instead he rents time and uses the machine remotely via the Internet. This really drastically reduces the production development cycle for the highly competitive time-to-market challenge.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering  (Volume:1 ,  Issue: 1 )