Advanced Applications of Rapid Prototyping

An International Experts' Workshop Report

Copyright 1993 by Wohlers Associates

Heterogeneous models in rapid prototyping was the focus of a special workshop held March 30 through April 1, 1993, in Herzlia, Israel. Heterogeneous models are parts made from more than one material. Manufacturing professionals use them whenever a single material falls short of providing the mechanical properties required by the prototype application. An example is embedding a metal insert inside a plastic part to give it additional strength.

RP users, educators, vendors and consultants from France, Germany, Israel, Norway and the US participated in this three-day event. The size of the workshop was intentionally kept small to encourage open dialogue among the participants. Industry consultant Terry Wohlers of Wohlers Associates (US) consulted with Cubital (Israel) in the coordination of the workshop. He also moderated sessions.

Day One

The opening presentation, titled Making Models Like Never Before, was given by Terry Wohlers. He discussed the RP marketplace and factors that are influencing growth. He explained that creating heterogeneous models from RP systems would make RP even more appealing, thus expanding the size of the market. His examples showed that prototype parts made from two or more materials are used to produce computer, medical, agricultural and consumer products. Furthermore, conventional heterogeneous models are used frequently to prototype and test parts in the automobile, aerospace, defense and electronics industries.

Dr. Nils Aksel Ruud of SINTEF (Norway) presented the challenges of adding a second material to metal castings, with an emphasis on functional testing of turbines. Dr. Uli Tucholke of Cubital (Germany) also discussed the importance and challenge of producing models and prototypes for functional testing in the metal casting industry. Dr. Unny Menon of Cal Poly (US) discussed heterogeneous modeling and how it can support and enhance concurrent engineering strategies.

David Tait of Laserform (US) stressed the significance of functional testing and how heterogeneous models from RP can help. Because of the dollars spent on prototype testing, Tait expects that it could be financially rewarding to organizations that sell and use RP systems that offer heterogeneous modeling capabilities. Dr. Dominique Humblot of the French Rapid Prototyping Association (France) analyzed RP and heterogeneous models from a marketing point of view.

The second half of the first day was dedicated to presentations of technical feasibilities. Gill Barequet of Cubital (Israel) presented geometrical tools that can skin, drill and cut STL files to make room for a second material. Dr. Dan Levin of The Technion (Israel) explained how heterogeneous modeling makes rapid prototyping possible for subsonic and hypersonic wind tunnel testing. Dr. Shuki Sheinmann also of The Technion (Israel) and Cubital described an interesting application -- turbo-electric energy converters -- where heterogenerous models are the only way of preproduction experimentation.

Hezi Meninger of Cubital (Israel) explained the process of inserting secondary materials before, during and after RP part production. Dr. Varda Herskowits, independent consultant (Israel) discussed the chemical aspects of adhesion between RP materials and secondary materials. At the conclusion of the first day, the participants left with a long list of challenges and possibilities.

Day Two

The first day concentrated primarily on the challenges, feasibilities and opportunities associated with heterogeneous models. Many new ideas were presented. Day two gave the workshop participants the chance to discuss these ideas in a very unusual setting: The inspirational Old City of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.

This unique workshop format was the brainchild of Cubital founder Itzchak Pomerantz. Pomerantz himself was very active in the workshop and offered a wealth of ideas and challenges. He believes that good things can happen when you bring together a diverse group of people and stimulate their creative juices in an informal, friendly and extraordinary atmosphere.

During the return to Herzlia from the Dead Sea, the workshop participants were asked to prepare a wish list that they would share the following day. The wish list was to consist of special requests of one another, for future experimentation, elaboration and research based on ideas raised at the workshop.

Day Three

The group produced more than 30 tasks (action items) for one another. Several individuals offered to do work for other workshop participants on a gratis basis. The workshop format indeed achieved its objective. A creative group of individuals met to brainstorm new ideas, form relationships and develop action items that may further the usefulness of rapid prototyping technology.

The event concluded with a tour of the Cubital facility in Raanana, Israel. Workshop participants saw Cubital's Solider 5600 RP system in operation and received a thorough demonstration of Cubital's DFE (Data Front End) product. The DFE software, available for use with any RP system, enables you to review STL files, repair them if necessary and arrange several parts for multiple part production.

The next workshop will focus on another advanced application of rapid prototyping. The date and theme have not been finalized. Copies of the presentation materials can be obtained from Cubital upon request, phone 313-585-7880 in the US, 972-52-906888 in Israel, and 49-6187-22037 in Germany.

Copyright 1993 by Wohlers Associates