1994-04-01

Solid Free Form Fabrication-A Break Through Tool for Concurrent Engineering 941228

The pressing demand for American companies to be World Class producers has brought about a change in philosophy on how they do business. One major change is the approach to manufacturing. The change requires the adoption of tools and techniques that provide form, fit and function in ways that shorten production lead time with a reduction in cost. Rapid prototyping (RP) technologies using Solid Free Form Fabrication (SFF) offers industry the opportunity to reduce cost, shorten schedules and give Concurrent Engineering a tool that will provide an interface with manufacturing. From the design review to manufacturing SFF parts can be used to smooth the transition from concept into production with over 50% cost reductions while cutting 50% off the cycle time.The cost and time for the modifications associated with adopting these new methods and training personnel presents a major challenge to manufacturing companies.Limited financial resources make it imperative that benefits and constraints of the new processes and techniques be completely understood so that facts rather than emotion can be applied when cost versus risk and return are evaluated as part of the decision making process.This paper presents information on how Hughes is using the SFF Stereolithography process (Figure 1) to help reduce cost, cycle time and addresses the crossing point as to when the use of SFF or when it makes sense to use conventional methods for the fabrication of cast metal parts.

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