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The use of stereolithography and related technologies to produce short run tooling

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dc.contributor.author van der Merwe, David Schalk
dc.contributor.other Bloemfontein: Central University of Technology, Free State
dc.date.accessioned 2017-04-05T08:31:46Z
dc.date.available 2017-04-05T08:31:46Z
dc.date.issued 2005
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/11462/878
dc.description Thesis en_US
dc.description.abstract Where material properties are critical to a polymer part, rapid prototype (RP) models are inappropriate for evaluation purposes and actual parts moulded in a range of materials are required for evaluation. Conventional tool making processes have extremely long lead times considering that numerous iterations may be required. The aim of this project was to generate polymer parts, utilising various approaches to Rapid Tooling (RT) , including Stereolithography or related technologies, as part of the process. The objective was to establish decision-making criteria for deciding on the appropriateness of various processes and the risks involved to assist prospective users of these technologies. The first phase of the project focused on the process validation of utilising Stereolithography as a direct means to generate injection mould tooling inserts, which were fitted into an injection mould designed for the trial purposes. The objective was to obtain process information with regard to insert generation for Stereolithography. A three dimensional model of the part was generated with CAD and the associated mould was generated around the part. The insert halves were processed and solid epoxy inserts were generated with the 3D Systems SLA500 Stereolithography machine. These inserts were post-finished and fitted to the injection mould . Additional features were added to the inserts to test cooling and gating and wear resistance of the cavity material. The author attended the basic injection tool setting course of the Plastics Federation to enable him to contribute more directly to this process. This also highlighted some of the design issues to facilitate ease of production . Initial difficulties were experienced in finding optimal process parameters. A total of 70 parts were produced, with measurable insert degradation. During the author's training at 3D Systems in the USA, he obtained additional insight in current methods of insert modelling and insert generation. If these process problems could be overcome, it would be possible to produce in excess of a 100 parts with one set of inserts, assuming a tolerance specification of 0.2mm. The cost of producing the inserts was approximately 50% that of conventional tooling fabrication . The time lapse between growing of the inserts and production of parts was one week compared to 6 to 8 weeks tool manufacture time with conventional methods. The second phase of the project focused on methods to enhance the cavity surface. Electroplating of inserts and inserts generated from Aluminium filled epoxy were tested , to investigate the effects that plating has on tool life, dimensional accuracy, temperature distribution, and the cost implications for these subsequent process steps. Stereolithography inserts were generated, taking into account the design considerations. Aluminium filled epoxy inserts were subsequently cast from silicone moulds drawn off the Stereolithography master patterns. Two sets of Stereolithography inserts were plated with 20 ~m of electrolytic nickel plating. One set of aluminium filled epoxy inserts were plated with electrolytic copper followed by electroless nickel. The mould sets were subjected to the same injection moulding trials using Polypropylene. The third phase of the project evaluated the use of Stereolithography investment casting masters to produce tool steel inserts, through the QuickCast process. Porosity was evident, with substantial machining required to fit the inserts. Not all the detail was retained during the casting process. Thin rib features on the part were thus lost. Due to the porosity the cooling was changed to copper tubes fitted into the rear of the tool and back-filled with aluminium epoxy. As the Stereolithography patterns were not polished the metal inserts had to be hand finished. This was a time consuming process and skill is required to obtain a good finish. A cost comparison indicated that machining aluminium inserts would be more cost effective. The tool manufacture time and eventual cost is not significantly less than conventional machining . In fact, trials with aluminium High speed CNC machining proved to be more time, finish and cost effective. This is discussed as part of the trial examples. Wax injection into AIM tooling was investigated on behalf of a client, with good results . As ceramic and polymer injection are very similar, apart from the ceramic being far more abrasive, it is the author's opinion that AIM tooling would be applicable, taking into account that fewer parts may be achieved. The KelTool process was also investigated during the author's USA visit. The licensing fees and additional equipment are extremely costly due to the Rand IDollar exchange rate. Issues related to this process are documented in this report. Clearly the deciding factors remain the quantity of parts required and the complexity of form. Each manufacturing process has a certain level of risk involved. Accumulative risk not only sets manufactured parts at risk but could jeopardise project time scales and iterations of a process have significant impact on a project budget. en_US
dc.format.extent Application/PDF
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.publisher Bloemfontein: Central University of Technology, Free State
dc.subject Rapid prototyping en_US
dc.subject Rapid tooling en_US
dc.title The use of stereolithography and related technologies to produce short run tooling en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.rights.holder Central University of Technology, Free State

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