[rp-ml] Re: Out-of-the-box fabbing?

From: <EdGrenda_at_aol.com>
Date: Tue Aug 03 2004 - 17:33:48 EEST

In a message dated 04-08-02 23:59:22 EDT, MB@MBurns.com writes:

<< Hi Ed and other experts here,
    Is anyone aware of any work on additive fab ("RP") technology
 that is not limited to a build envelope internal to the machine? I.e.,
 additive technology that builds external to the machine(s) that is doing
 the building?
    Contour Crafting is certainly capable of that. Any others under
    Another possible example would be technology that follows the
 model of how termites (or ants, bees) build their mounds (colonies,
 hives)? I.e., a networked swarm of microfabbers. Is there any research
 going on on ideas like that?
Dear Marshall:

There are a number of seemingly small or otherwise obscure efforts going on
that fit that description. For example, there is an inventor in the UK that
has described the fabrication of boat hulls and other large items using a
process not-disimilar to FDM. There is also a commercial effort underway there
which may be related to this inventor. There are some parallel efforts to Berok
Khoshnevis' work going on in India that I recall seeing, as well. These are the
ones that occur to me off the top of my head, and I haven't bothered tracking
down or remembering the details. I think if you scour the literature you can
come up with a number of additional leads, as well.

In most cases, there are just a single or a couple of references to the work
so to learn more probably requires establishing direct contact.

Of course, any number of technologies can be reconfigured to work outside the
box, and some of these are described in patents and patent applications. I
recall seeing someplace a version of LOM that uses a robot instead of an X-Y
stage, for example. Judging the seriousness and maturity of these efforts once
you find them is another time-consuming problem.

The swarm thing appears in the patent literature in one guise or another. I
recall seeing something about a year ago from a large Japanese company and
also from some indvidual inventors. More than a little far-fetched at the
present state of development. Unless the application can be put off for a few
decades, I'd stick with researching more mundane machine architectures.

I'd suggest you look through references from Berok's papers and search the
patent literature as a start. There is no fun involved whatsoever, but it will
keep you busy for many an hour.

Best regards,

Ed Grenda
Castle Island Co.
781-646-6280 (voice or fax)
EdGrenda@aol.com (email)

The Worldwide Guide to Rapid Prototyping
Received on Tue Aug 03 16:47:46 2004

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