Analysis of rapid manufacturing—using layer manufacturing processes for production

2008-08-13T10:39:18Z (GMT) by Neil Hopkinson Phill M. Dickens
Rapid prototyping (RP) technologies that have emerged over the last 15 years are all based on the principle of creating three-dimensional geometries directly from computer aided design (CAD) by stacking two-dimensional proŽ les on top of each other. To date most RP parts are used for prototyping or tooling purposes; however, in future the majority may be produced as end-use products. The term ‘rapid manufacturing’ in this context uses RP technologies as processes for the production of end-use products. This paper reports Ž ndings from a cost analysis that was performed to compare a traditional manufacturing route (injection moulding) with layer manufacturing processes (stereolithography, fused deposition modelling and laser sintering) in terms of the unit cost for parts made in various quantities. The results show that, for some geometries, it is more economical to use layer manufacturing methods than it is to use traditional approaches for production in the thousands.