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RT700 - Int J Adv Manuf Technol(1999 15:604-608 © 1999...

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Unformatted text preview: Int J Adv Manuf Technol (1999) 15:604-608 © 1999 Springer-Verlag London Limited 11»anqude fltlvanted fllanufatturing lethntlugy Rapid Tooling Technology. Part 1. A Comparative Study C. K. Chua‘, K. H. Hong1 and S. L. Ho2 ‘School of Mechanical and Production Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; and 3Mechanical Engineering Department, Singapore Polytechnic, Singapore Rapid tooling (RT) is the technology that adapts rapid prototyp- ing (RP) techniques and applies them to tool and die making. Research into RT techniques has shown that it is gaining more importance and is stoning to pose a serious threat to conventional machining. In this paper, several popular RT techniques are discussed and then classified. A comparison is also made on these techniques based on tool life, tool develop- ment time and cost of tool development. Keywords: Direct tooling; Hard tooling; Indirect tooling; Rapid prototyping (RP); Rapid tooling (RT); Soft tooling 1. Introduction Rapid prototyping (RP) has been in evidence for the past 10 years. One of the main benefits of RP is the ability for the manufacturer to verify a design in a matter of hours after the completion of the CAD data [1]. This has enabled manufac- turers to cut down on the product development time. However. owing to the limitations of RP systems. manufacturers very often find that they are not able to obtain the prototype in the required material of the end product. Also, because of the principle of building up the prototype, the mechanical proper- ties of the prototype are somehow different from that of the end product manufactured by the final production process [2]. Rapid tooling (RT) technology is essentially the technology that adopts RP techniques and applies them to tool and die making. It is becoming more popular and is posing a serious threat to conventional tool making. Manufacturers are increas- ingly looking towards RT, not only as an alternative to RP, but especially for short production runs which do not justify the investment required for conventional hard tool-ing [3]. Several RT technologies are now commonly available in industry. Some of these technologies produce the tool directly from the RP process. However, the majority of RT technologies Correspondence and ofijtrint requests to: Dr C. K. Chua, School of Mechanical and Production Engineering. Nanyang Technological University, Nanyang Avenue. 639798. Singapore. E-mail: [email protected] uses the model created by the RP process in a secondary process to produce the tool. 2. Benefits of RT Although it is now possible to make prototype models very quickly using the various RP systems, these are still not produced in the final product material and by the final pro— duction process. Both designers and management, prior to commencing mass production still often require this kind of verification. A prototype in the purest definition of the word. must include the manufacturing process, for example, the injection- moulding process. This type of evaluation and analysis was not practical until the application of RP to tooling. Conven- tional tooling for injection moulding requires a substantial time and cost investment. Nowadays, owing to the globalisation of consumer markets and the consequent increase in the numbers of competitors facing any individual manufacturer, it is becoming more important for manufacturers to be first into the market with their products. With RT, successful case studies have proved that it is possible to reduce the product development time by at least half [4]. RT is most suitable for prc-series production. This involves manufacturing the product in its final material and by the intended manufacturing process. but in small numbers (about 500 pieces). Pre-series production is usually to test production equipment and tools and to test the market introduction of a product. The mechanical performance of an injection-moulded pan is a function of its design, material properties and the manufactur- ing process [5]. For example, the molecular orientation and the internal stress of the plastic part are determined by the certain production variables, such as the gating locations, fill patterns, corner radii and wall thickness. Part geometry also plays an important part in the designing of a plastic part. Sometimes wall sections might seem adequate for the form, and fit the requirements, but may not be mould- able. The wall sections may be too thin to allow proper flow of the plastics, or, in the case of thick sections, the plastic ...
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