Rapid Prototyping Gets Faster And Cheaper

From: Bob Olsen (Bob@protogenic.com)
Date: Fri Dec 12 2003 - 17:01:27 EET

Saw this in the Dec 1 issue of Business Week, this is form their online
version. Interesting!

Regards, Bob Olsen http://www.protogenic.com <http://www.protogenic.com>


Rapid Prototyping Gets Faster And Cheaper

Since the late 1980s, rapid prototyping (RP) has evolved from a tool for
making factory molds and dies to a low-volume technique for making finished
parts, and even consumer product prototypes. One type of RP machine turns
computer models into functional parts by creating thin layer upon layer of
powdered metal or plastic, fusing each layer into a solid. This so-called
sintering is done by scanning a laser back and forth within the part's
often-intricate outline. But with most such machines, it takes hours to
build a large 3-D shape.

 Rapid Prototyping
g> Behrokh Khoshnevis, a professor of industrial and systems engineering at
the University of Southern California, says he has a better idea. Instead of
sintering a layer by scanning it with a laser beam, his system quickly fuses
the whole layer under an oven-like electric or gas heater. The powder
outside the part's outline doesn't solidify because it gets treated in
advance with a special liquid. Khoshnevis says his patented approach can
polish off each layer in less than 15 seconds. And it doesn't need a laser,
which can cost tens of thousands of dollars. He has licensed the process and
hopes to see products as early as next year.
By Neil Gross

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