, Volume 67, Issue 1-4, pp 377-385,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

RP part surface quality versus build orientation: when the layers are getting thinner

Abstract

Surface quality is a very important factor to be considered in determining part build orientation in rapid prototyping (RP) processes. Previous research has shown that parts built with inclined planes or curved surfaces along the build orientation have large staircase effect, thus have higher surface roughness compared to parts built with only vertical surfaces. However, as layers are getting thinner in rapid prototyping processes, the opposite might be true. In this study, a number of experiments and measurements are conducted first. In a single machine setup, two cylinders are built, one along axial direction and the other along transverse direction using an Objet® machine. Measurements have shown that surface roughness of RP parts built along the transverse direction is better than those from the axial direction. Through analysis and observation, the authors can conclude that when layers are small enough, surface curvature or slope along the build orientation may no longer be a major concern for RP part surface quality. Instead, the authors have observed that on-the-layer contour layout may cause even more serious surface quality problem. In other words, surface quality is not only dependent on build orientation, but more on scanning orientation on layers.