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The Development of Rapid Prototyping Technology in China

In China, rapid prototyping technology started to develop in early 1990s, mainly in Xi’an Jiaotong University, Tsinghua University and so on.

Categorys:Rapid Prototyping SLA & SLS

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Posted on: June 27, 2018, | By Vivi, WayKen Project Manager

A Brief Introduction of RPT History

Rapid prototyping technology (RPT) was first used in the United States. In 1987, 3D SYSTEM introduced commercial rapid prototyping equipment for the first time. PRATT & WHITNEY AND EASTMAN KODAK, they are the marks of the beginning of rapid prototyping technology in an industrial application in the 1990s. The rapid prototyping technology is expanding fast in its application scope, used by the companies including Boeing of the US, and GM, AUDI, BMW in Germany and many other well-known international companies. In 1992, rapid prototyping equipment was already used in over 500 projects among 17 countries.

The Beginning of RPT in China

In China, rapid prototyping technology started to develop in early 1990s, mainly with Xi’an Jiaotong University, Tsinghua University, Huazhong University of Science and Technology and Beijing Longyuan AFS Co.,Ltd, which has carried on the light curing, fused deposition modeling, hierarchical entities manufacturing and district laser sintering molding technology and equipment research. The corresponding rapid prototyping equipment has been commercialized at present.

The core competitiveness of the rapid prototyping technology is that it brings down the manufacturing cost and market response time, and usually manufacturers choose it for this consideration. The rapidly developed and popularized rapid prototyping technology, especially in the beauty, has been widely used in many fields such as automobile, motorcycle, aviation, military and medical.

5 Typical Methods for RP

With the development of new material, especially high-performance materials, and application of rapid prototyping, more and more advanced rapid prototyping technologies are produced at present. Below are a few typical ones.

 1. Stereo Lithography Apparatus (SLA)

Selective liquid photosensitive resin curing is a kind of rapid prototyping technology first appearing in machine prototyping, which is featured with a full tank of liquid photosensitive resin, the  material for SLA printing. Under UV irradiation at the beginning, the resin liquid quickly cures. At the height of the liquid level, it can lift workbench to the next section thickness. The resin focuses after computer controlled UV laser beam scanning. With the request of the cross section contour scanning along the liquid surface, the scanned area is cured and obtain the expected contour. Then, the workbench drops at a layer height, and another layer of liquid resin covers it. In the second scan curing, the new solidified layer is firmly bonded to the previous layer. This process is repeated until the whole product is formed.

 2. Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM)

This method is based on 3d model of each section contour line, and is controlled by computer, with the CO2 laser beam scanning the lightweight materials (such as floor glue volume form paper) for cutting layer outline. Step by step, layers are bonded together and eventually form a three-dimensional product.

 3. Selected Laser Sintering (SLS)

SLS uses CO2 laser and powder materials (such as plastic powder, ceramic and binder mixed powder metal powder mixed with binder) to mold. It spreads a layer of powder materials in the workbench first, and then, under the process of computer controlled laser beam with the cross section contour information, the part in powder is sintered and the workbench drops down at a layer height. Afterwards, a new layer of liquid resin covers the surface of former solidified one. With all these steps repeated, ultimately, a three-dimensional product is formed.


4. Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

Controlled by computer, rapid molding machine nozzle is heated according to the information of cross section contour, as x-y plane moving toward z axis direction. Silk material (such as plastic wire) for silk machine is sent to the nozzle, and gets heated to melt in the tank, then selectively coated on the workbench and rapid cooling after the formation of cross section contour. After the completion of a layer molding, workbench drops at the height of a layer, and the next layer of coating begins. With circles in this way, ultimately a three-dimensional product is formed.

 5. Three-Dimensional Printing (TDP)

TDP works with a rapid molding machine nozzle, and is controlled by computer according to the cross section contour information. In the layers of powder materials prepared, adhesive is selectively sprayed and forms section contour. After completion of a layer of molding, workbench drops at the height of a section layer, and then the next layer of adhesive moves on. With these processes cycled, ultimately a 3D product is produced.

Why Does RP Technology Boom?

RP technology is the world's advanced manufacturing technology and new product development method in the 1990s. In industrialized countries, it is an important strategy for companies to adopt RP technology to ensure the development cycle and improve the design quality in the development of new products. At present, the market competition is getting more intense and the product replacement is accelerating.

To maintain the competitiveness of our products in domestic and foreign markets, we urgently need to adopt advanced innovative methods while increasing investment in new product development and enhancing our awareness of innovation. RP technology enables rapid manufacturing of new product samples of any complex shape without the need for any tools, dies and tooling fixtures.

With RP technology, rapidly creating models or samples can be directly used in the design of new product appearance, functional verification and so on. It is very beneficial to optimize the product design, thus greatly enhancing the success rate of new product development, improving the market competitiveness of products, shortening the development cycle, and reducing the development cost with enterprise application of RP technology to carry out product innovation activities.

RP technology has been applied in many fields. Its application scope is mainly in design inspection, market prediction, engineering testing (stress analysis, air duct, etc.), assembly testing, mold manufacturing, medicine, aesthetics and so on. RP technology is used most in the manufacturing industry (up to 67%), indicating that RP technology has a huge effect on improving product design and manufacturing levels.

The Future Developing Direction for RP Technology

There are still many shortcomings in the rapid forming technology. The next research and development work will mainly focus on the following aspects:

  1. Improve the reliability and productivity of the rapid forming system and the ability to make large parts, especially the precision of the rapid forming system;
  2. Develop economical rapid prototyping system;
  3. Improve and innovate rapid prototyping methods and processes;
  4. Develop fast forming materials with good performance;
  5. Develop high-performance software for rapid prototyping.

As a rapid prototyping supplier in China, WayKen is always on the urge to keep our skills and knowledge up-to-date, so we could better serve our customers worldwide.

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