From Desktop Engineering Magazine
Part 2: Digital manufacturing strengthens its position via expertise and widespread application.
This image of the Stratasys large-format production 900MC FDMsystem, shows examples of the 32 parts of themachinemade with FDMtechnology. (Image courtesy Stratasys)
Rapid manufacturing (RM) has experienced a sturdy, deliberate progression of improvements this past year compared to the somewhat heady "let's try this, this, and this" approach of the past 10. It's a good sign when companies have mastered their basic technologies and reached the point where they can fine-tune their R&D-based or first-generation results. However, today's RM industry is anything but staid or dull.
More finely controlled build parameters, greater variety in materials, and overall efficiencies continue to improve, expanding the end uses into just about every application area you can imagine: medical, dental, jewelry, tooling, consumer applications, and more.
DE takes a look at some of the achievements in RM since last June, and offers a glossary reflecting many of the current technologies in this field (see Table 1).
Finer Features, Ne RM Materials
Objet announced it was the first rapid prototyping (RP) company to win the manufacturing industry's EuroMold 2007 Innovation Award for its Connex500 3D printing system. What's clever about the Connex500 is its ability to build using two photopolymer materials at the same time.
Per the Objet website, "The dual-jet process can combine materials in several ways, enabling the simultaneous use of two different rigid materials, two flexible materials, one of each type, any combination with transparent material, or two jets of the same material."
Even more interesting, the Connex500 also fabricates parts made from (currently) 21 truly blended-composite Digital Materials and produced by simultaneously jetting two different Objet materials.
This capability creates preset combinations that display different Shore A mechanical (hardness) properties, all in one physical part. More combinations are in the works.
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