Rapid Prototype

1.1   Introduction

      In this chapter the basic definition of Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing (RP&M) is given. Outline of different systems available in RP& M are presented. Advantages and disadvantages of some of the systems are also highlighted.

1.2   General
      Being a manufacturing engineer, one is usually concerned with the removal of material from stock or producing a new shape via castings. The removal of material has advanced to   machines and virtual manufacturing. All of these processes involve tooling.
      In late 80’s the concept of Rapid Prototyping (RP) was coming to light, even though the layered method to produce molds for topographical relief maps dates back to 1890 [1]. This reminded me of my grand mother, who used to make mud ovens by layer addition, after preparing the mud from the earth by pouring some water and hay. Rolling a piece of mud as a layer and giving it a round shape by joining the ends like a big circle. The second layer was produced the same way and placed on top of the first layer after wetting the top of the first layer using water as a gluing agent. Leaving it to the sunlight ensured that the layers are cured. The subsequent layers were shorter in diameter and length as shown in figure 1.1. The oven used to take two to three days to complete. The final process was to cure it in the sunlight or on fire. Such ovens are produced in thousands in different parts of the world. There are lot of similarities between producing a mud oven by hand and producing complicated shapes via RP processes.

1.3   Basic Definition of RP
      RP may be defined as rapid generation of complex physical objects by layer deposition of material, directly from the CAD model without using tools. Other terms usually used for RP are layer manufacturing, automated fabrication, materials in cress manufacturing, solid free form fabrication, instant manufacturing, fast free form fabrication, rapid fabrication technologies, desktop...