Part Orientation in Stereolithography
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Rapid prototyping (RP) machines reduce the lead time and cost of new products by automating the prototype manufacturing phase of the product development process. However, it is necessary for operators to orientate the prototype correctly in the RP machine to obtain the best trade-off between time, cost, and accuracy. The purpose of this work is to produce a decision-support tool to help RP users in this task. The tool is aimed at stereolithography which is the most widely adopted RP technology. The tool is a feature-based system produced using an object-orientated programming language and a solid modelling CAD environment. Cost, time, problematic features, optimally orientated features, overhanging area, and support volume are considered when recommending a build direction to the user. Three sample parts were used to illustrate the performance of the system. The system yielded the best surface finish and correctly highlighted several problem features.
Key words. Rapid prototyping; Stereolithography
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© Springer-Verlag London Limited 1999