Motor Vehicle Rapid Toolmaker

From: Yakov Horenstein (
Date: Fri Oct 10 1997 - 00:21:12 EEST

Sanders Prototype has been granted an award from the US Department of
Commerce to develop the technology for a Motor Vehicle Rapid ToolMaker.

I reproduce the information here from the following web site:

Motor-Vehicle Manufacturing Technology (October 1997)

     Develop a tool-making machine and associated processes to rapidly
     produce plastic, ceramic, and metal tools for use in automobile
     manufacturing, to produce parts with a superior surface finish at
     a cost far lower than presently possible.

Sponsor: Sanders Prototype Incorporated

PO Box 540
Wilton, NH 03086

   * Project duration: 2 years
   * Total project (est.): $2,496 K
   * Requested ATP funds: $1,990 K

Over the past 10 years, rapid prototyping machines have strengthened the
capability of U.S. automakers to shorten production cycles. However,
existing processes lack the 0.1 percent accuracy and resolution needed to
make the tooling for production of new vehicles. Sanders Prototype proposes
to develop a low-cost tool-making machine and associated processes to
rapidly produce plastic, ceramic, and metal tools for use in automobile
manufacturing. The proposed process, which would be accurate enough to make
tools for injection molding of parts, would transform three-dimensional (3D)
computer-aided-design (CAD) files into accurate master patterns for tools
that could be built in days. The Motor Vehicle Rapid Tool Maker (MVRTM)
would use a precision plotter to position a jet to deposit small drops of a
"build" material consisting of a thermoplastic material or a slurry of
ceramics or powdered metal. Another jet would deposit a wax that would serve
as the "support" material for part bracing and fine definition. Then the
model would be trimmed to the desired height and dipped into a solvent to
melt the wax. The resulting pattern of "build" material would be converted
to a metal tool through an investment casting or sintering process. The
technical challenges include building rapid, accurate jetting systems for
fine and bulk deposition of material; designing a ceramic slurry for making
ceramic tool patterns; designing a powdered-metal slurry for making metal
tool patterns; and development of a software system to process the 3D CAD
models. Technical support will be provided by materials scientists at the
University of Michigan and Penn State University. The MVRTM could produce a
rocker arm for an automobile engine in 3 hours, one-tenth the time required
using an existing rapid prototyping machine. Moreover, the new system would
produce parts with a superior surface finish and cost far less than similar
machines do today. Other potential markets for the MVRTM include the
electronics, appliance, aerospace, and medical industries.

For project information:
     Al Hastbacka, (603) 654-5100 x302

ATP Project Manager:
     Richard Bartholomew, (301) 975-4786

Yakov Horenstein
Milano, Italy

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