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Journal of Materials Processing Technology 169 (2005) 54–61

Optimization of rapid prototyping parameters for production of flexible ABS object
B.H. Lee, J. Abdullah, Z.A. Khan ∗
School of Mechanical Engineering, Universiti Sains Malaysia – Engineering Campus, 14300 Seri Ampangan, Nibong Tebal, Penang, Malaysia Received 12 March 2004; received in revised form 14 December 2004; accepted 9 February 2005

Abstract In this study, the Taguchi method, a powerful tool to design optimization for quality, is used to find the optimal process parameters for fused deposition modeling (FDM) rapid prototyping machine that was used to produce acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) compliant prototype. An orthogonal array, main effect, the signal-to-noise (S/N) ratio, and analysis of variance (ANOVA) are employed to investigate the process parameters in order to achieve optimum elastic performance of a compliant ABS prototype so as to get maximum throwing distance from the prototype. Through this study, not only can the optimal process parameters for FDM process be obtained, but also the main process parameters that affect the performance of the prototype can be found. Experiments were carried out to confirm the effectiveness of this approach. From the results, it is found that FDM parameters, i.e. layer thickness, raster angle and air gap significantly affect the elastic performance of the compliant ABS prototype. The optimum levels of parameters at different angle of displacement are also presented. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Rapid prototyping; Flexibe ABS; Fused deposition modeling; Taguchi method

1. Introduction Since the introduction of the first commercial rapid prototyping (RP) machine widely known as Stereolithography in 1986, a wide range of RP machines have been commercialized, and many more newer systems continue to be developed in various parts of the world [1]. The future is clear as rapid prototyping is now becoming a key technology that shortens product development time for faster building of physical prototypes, tooling and models. Rapid prototyping in general, is more flexible and can readily accommodate changes in product design as compared to conventional method of casting, molding or machining. Studies have been conducted to improve and optimize the process, so as to obtain high quality parts produced on a wide range of commercial RP machines [2–6]. Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is one RP system that produces prototypes from plastic materials such as ABS by

Corresponding author. Tel.: +60 4 5937788x6365; fax: +60 4 5941025. E-mail address: zakhanusm@yahoo.com (Z.A. Khan).

laying tracks of semi-molten plastic filament onto a platform in a layer wise manner from bottom to top. It is known that process parameters such as the air gap between adjacent tracks, raster angle, raster width and thickness of deposited layers influence the performance of parts produced on an FDM machine. Nevertheless, the suitable levels of parameters associated with different performance criteria still need further investigation. Some studies have been conducted to determine the optimum parameters of FDM, and performance criteria often used include build time, strength, toughness and surface integrity of the prototypes, normally for injection molding and tooling applications [4,5,7]. Some work to determine the feasibility/capability of fabricating fused deposition modeling (FDM) parts concurrently from elastomeric and structural members using FDM 1600 machine has been done [8]. Optimization method for producing flexible prototype using FDM 1650 to achieve optimum performance of the prototype has also been reported [9]. It is to be noted that FDM machine has potential for direct use in certain applications such as actuator in electro-mechanical systems and construction of plastic toys. In these areas, compliant mem-

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the degrees of freedom for the orthogonal array should be greater than or at least equal to those for the process parameters. The Taguchi approach The Taguchi method is a well-known technique that provides a systematic and efficient methodology for design optimization. 45◦ /−45◦ and 30◦ /60◦ indicate the same deposition pattern followed by the machine. throwing distance and elasticity. A model of a catapult that can be used in sling shot toy is taken as case example. Children’s toys such as sling shot. 3. Lee et al. gains its mobility and performs its functions through elastic deformation of its structure which is a function of material properties or geometrical design [10]. Selection of process parameters The FDM3000 rapid prototyping machine with Insight 3.1. This paper attempts to describe the optimization of FDM process parameters for optimum performance of compliant ABS prototypes in terms of elasticity and flexibility. 45◦ /−45◦ and 30◦ /60◦ in Table 1. Toys have long been produced using the conventional methods of casting and molding. each with three levels. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) is then used to determine which process parameter is statistically significant and the contribution of each process parameter towards the output characteristic.178 Level 2 Sparse 45◦ /−45◦ 0. It has been widely used for product design and process optimization worldwide [11–13]. the entire parameter space is studied with minimal number of necessary experiments only [14. Elasticity and flexibility are assumed to be related to its ability to throw a plastic ball a distance. bow and arrow are examples where compliant or flexible plastic members are widely used. raster width and layer thickness. Results are discussed and finally the paper concludes with the findings of the study. i. The 0◦ /90◦ angle means that FDM machine fabricates the alternate layers of the catapult on the horizontal plane by changing direction at 0◦ and 90◦ angles from the coordinate of the machine. are needed. which includes simplification of experimental plan and feasibility of study of interaction between different parameters. Optimization of fused deposition modeling parameters 3. The optimal FDM process parameters with regard to the performance criteria.H. each with three levels count for eight degrees of freedom. Lesser number of experiments means time and costs are reduced. Taguchi proposes experimental plan in terms of orthogonal array that gives dif- Table 1 FDM parameters and their levels Symbol A B C D FDM parameter Air gap Raster angle Raster width Layer thickness Unit mm Degree angles mm mm Level 1 Solid fine 0◦ /90◦ 0. With the main effect and ANOVA analyses. According to this technique. are considered.305 0.15]. Obviously the appropriate orthogonal array in this case was the standard L9 . main effect analysis is performed. For example. This is due to the advantages of the design of experiment using Taguchi’s technique. a confirmation experiment is conducted to verify the optimal process parameters obtained from the process parameter design. four parameters. the total degrees of freedom need to be determined. It can be noted that raster angle was specified as 0◦ /90◦ . As design becomes more complicated and product life cycle gets shorter due to market needs. Similarly. raster angle.980 0. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 169 (2005) 54–61 55 bers that exhibit elastic and flexible behavior are increasingly being used due to reduce parts counts and therefore. air gap. Based on the average output value at each parameter level. alternative approaches such as RP.254 Level 3 Double wide 30◦ /60◦ 0. The interactions between the parameters were not considered and other factors such as temperature and humidity were kept constant. Basically.655 0. This is followed by the description of experiments using the Taguchi method to determine and analyze the optimal FDM parameters. an overview of the Taguchi method is given first.305 . The total degrees of freedom are obtained by multiplying the degrees of freedom of each process parameter to the number of parameters. Other parameters such as humidity and temperature are kept constant. This is especially vital for rapid prototyping where cost to produce prototypes is still high. ferent combinations of parameters and their levels for each experiment. a three-level process parameter counts for two degrees of freedom. in this study. Four FDM parameters i. possible combination of optimum parameters can be predicted. lead to ease of assembly and lower product costs [10]. In the following. Four parameters. The degrees of freedom are defined as the number of comparisons between process parameters that need to be made to determine which level is better and specifically how much better it is. with four columns and 2. are investigated in this study. Finally.e. Therefore.1 software was used in the study. that offers more flexibility and responsiveness to design changes.e. each at three levels as presented in Table 1 were taken into consideration in the study.B. To select an appropriate orthogonal array for the experiments. It has been reported that compliant member in general.

Figs. This observation was based on fact that there was consistency in the throwing distances and the catapults did not loose their original shape. The catapult was bent and held in place using a stopper placed at locator holes for 10◦ . respectively.27 263. the average throwing distances at the same angle of displacement of 10◦ was recorded for the catapults produced from parameters setting of experiment number 3–9. 15◦ and 20◦ angle of displacement from the initial position of the catapult. Next. Testing of compliant ABS product The isometric and top views of the selected catapult design are shown in Fig.23 107. The average throwing distance at different angles of displacement is summarized in Table 3. Thin powder layer was spread evenly on the bench so that when the ball was thrown.1. A 5 g ball was loaded onto the catapult. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 169 (2005) 54–61 Table 2 Experimental plan using L9 orthogonal array Experiment number Parameter/level A 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 3 B 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 C 1 2 3 2 3 1 3 1 2 D 1 2 3 3 1 2 2 3 1 nine rows. 1. Similarly.70 95. and the signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) analyses.2. (b) top view.53 100. Three throws were performed using the catapult produced from parameters settings of experiment number 1 (Table 2). 15◦ and 20◦ .10◦ . respectively. ANOVA.37 125. During testing of the catapults it was observed that the catapults did not loose their elastic strength and were also not plastically deformed. Lee et al.13 165. 4.80 104.63 99. 3–5 depict graphs for the output characteristic (average throwing distance) of the prototypes when they were bent at angle of displacement of 10◦ . 2b.37 325.97 171.80 275. 15◦ . 3 that on the Table 3 Average throwing distances at various angles of displacement Experiment number Throwing distance (cm) 10◦ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 96.e.83 104.50 164.56 B. Results and discussion The results were obtained by testing all the nine prototypes for different angles of displacement i. Catapult design: (a) isometric view. which were produced according to the experimental plan of the orthogonal array (Table 2). 3. a confirmation test was carried out to compare the experimental results with the estimated results. Finally.20 185. Each prototype represented each experiment of the orthogonal array (Table 2). the catapult was fixed on a specially designed fixture.e. For testing. This is to mimic the way catapult is normally used as component in toys.83 20◦ 250. average throwing distance from the prototypes. and 20◦ respectively. 2a and b.43 Fig.90 213. The isometric and side views of the experimental setup are illustrated in Fig. 15◦ and 20◦ .53 275. the results were analyzed by employing main effects. respectively. It can be seen from Fig. at each angle of displacement was calculated and the results are shown in Table 3. 4.20 169. respectively. this catapult was replaced by another catapult obtained from parameters settings of experiment number 2 and average throwing distance for the same angle of displacement was recorded. after bending it to an angle of displacement of 10◦ .10 157. then the catapult got deflected and threw the ball at a distance as shown in Fig. When the stopper was released.13 304. Nine samples were produced on an FDM3000 machine using ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) material according to the parameters and their levels as indicated in Table 2. Main effects For performing the main effect.H.07 98.87 179.33 15◦ 160.00 253. The L9 orthogonal array for this study is shown in Table 2.17 256. 1a and b. .77 234. The fixture was placed on a laboratory bench. it left a mark upon landing. In the latter. The average throwing distance was recorded. This procedure was repeated for the other two angles of displacements i.

Lee et al. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) The purpose of the analysis of variance (ANOVA) was to investigate which parameters significantly affected the quality characteristic.B. A3 B3 C2 D1 once again appear to be the best combination for 15◦ angle of displacement as it is evident from Fig. Fig. The parameters and their levels. Main effect chart at 10◦ angle of displacement. 4. Main effect chart at 15◦ angle of displacement. Finally. 4. 5 that the best combination of parameters and their levels for 20◦ angle of displacement is A3 B3 C3 D1 .H. i. 2. 3. (1) . the best combination of parameters and their levels for the optimum performance of compliant ABS prototype for 10◦ angle of displacement is A3 B3 C2 D1 .2. SST was calculated from the following formula [14]: n SST = Fig. it can be observed from Fig. In order to perform ANOVA first. basis of average throwing distance. 4. (b) side view. i=1 2 yi − C. the total sum of squared deviations. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 169 (2005) 54–61 57 Fig.F. Experimental setup for catapult testing: (a) isometric view.e.

and the layer thickness at level 1. SST .e. the raster angle at level 3. mean square deviation (MSD) for ‘the-bigger-the-better’ quality characteristic and S/N ratio were calculated from the following equations [14]: MSD = 1 n n i=1 where. 4. i.3. Based on the main effect and ANOVA analyses. Then. The mean of squared deviations. raster width and layer thickness were significant in terms of affecting the flexible performance resulting in maximum throwing distance. SSe . The contribution order for the parameters was layer thickness. the farther the throwing distance. air gap. SSd due to each process parameter to the total sum of squared deviations. The percentage contribution. SSm to the mean of squared error. The total sum of squared deviations. p by each of the process parameter in the total sum of squared deviations. when F > 4. Tables 4–6 show the results of ANOVA for 10◦ . the mean of squared deviations.e. the optimal parameters were air gap at level 3. Lee et al. C. raster angle at level 3. Similarly. 15◦ and ◦ 20 angles of displacement respectively. Confirmation test Once the optimal combination and levels of the process parameter at each angle of displacement had been obtained. and then raster width.H. In addition to this. the optimal parameters were air gap at level 3. the raster width at level 2. It can be seen from these tables that for each angle of displacement. all the four parameters i. SST was a ratio of the sum of squared deviations. raster angle. air gap. SSm is equal to the sum of squared deviations. was calculated as [14]: C. there is a tool called F test to see which process parameters have significant effect on the quality characteristic. Usually. the contribution order of the parameters for the desired output was raster angle.58 B. the optimal parameters for achieving maximum throwing distance from the prototype were the air gap at level 3. the correction factor. air gap. yi the throwing distance of i-th experiment and C. Therefore. the better the catapult performance. . the contribution order of the parameters for maximum throwing distance was air gap. In order to perform S/N ratio analysis. within the range investigated as shown in Table 1. SSd due to each process parameter and the sum of squared error. and then raster width. SST was decomposed into two sources: the sum of squared deviations. it means that the change of the process parameter has significant effect on the quality characteristic. the F value for each process parameter is simply the ratio of the mean of squared deviations. Finally. all the four parameters had a significant effect on the throwing distance. This shows that in the present case study the parameters and their levels. raster width at level 2. It can be seen from Table 4 that for 10◦ angle of displacement. A3 B3 C2 D1 has consistently resulted in the maximum value of S/N ratio. and then layer thickness at level 1. For performing the F test. SSm due to each process parameter needs to be calculated. percent contribution of each parameter was also calculated. SSe . 5. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 169 (2005) 54–61 Fig. However. 1 2 yi (3) (4) S/N = −10 log10 (MSD) where yi is the throwing distance for ith experiment.F. where. and layer thickness at level 1. The S/N ratio obtained for each angle of displacement is presented in Tables 7–9. It should be noted that the prototypes resulting from each experiment was used three times to throw the ball at each angle of displacement and thus the value of n (27) was used in the calculation.F. Table 6 reveals that for 20◦ angle of displacement all the four parameters once again had a significant affect on the desired output. raster angle. Signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) The signal-to-noise ratio measures the sensitivity of the quality investigated to those uncontrollable factors (error) in the experiment. The F-ratios were obtained for 99% level of confidence [14]. 4. The quality characteristic used in this study was ‘the-bigger-the-better’. the combination of the parameters and their levels. respectively. layer thickness.F. raster angle at level 3. The higher value of S/N ratio is desirable because greater S/N ratio will result in smaller product variance around the target value. it can be observed from Table 5 that for 15◦ angle of displacement. Main effect chart at 20◦ angle of displacement. However. raster angle.4. = T2 n (2) and then raster width. A3 B3 C2 D1 yield optimum quality characteristic with minimum variance around the target value for each angle of displacement. Based on the main effect and the ANOVA analyses. layer thickness. Statistically. based on main effect and ANOVA analyses. raster width at level 3. T is the total of the throwing distances. SSd divided by the number of degrees of freedom associated with the process parameters. n is the number of experiments in the orthogonal array.

45 23. The experimental throwing distance was compared with the estimated throwing distance Table 7 S/N values at 10◦ angle of displacement Experiment number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Average distance.06 28.94 F 227.91 100 Contribution (%) 27.96 where m is the average performance.93 1204.39 1013.51 545.68 Mean square 2712.52 31. mBopt the average throwing distance for parameter B at its optimum level.60 9. Lee et al.14 1.77 32.60 F 216.13 10. The prototype at optimal levels of the factors i. mCopt the average throwing distance for parameter C at its optimum level. This was repeated three times and for each time.30 S/N 39.10 214. Estimated throwing distance at optimum condition for each angle of displacement was calculated by adding the average performance to the contribution of each parameter at the optimum level using the following equations [15]: yopt = m + (mAopt − m) + (mBopt − m) + (mCopt − m) + (mDopt − m) T n (5) m= (6) the throwing distance for A3 B3 C2 D1 is same as that of estimated value and thus there was no need for any confirmation test.41 354.13 42.767.37 125.79 2008. C3 and D1 was produced on the FDM machine. confirmation test was required for 20◦ angle of displacement only because the optimum parameters and their levels (A3 B3 C3 D1 ) did not correspond to any experiment of the orthogonal array. it can be seen from Table 10 that for 10◦ and 15◦ angles of displacement the experimental value of . And furthermore.37 8. Subsequently.96 9.75 7.e.94 19.26 272. The prototype was bent at 20◦ angle of displacement so as to throw the ball.88 5.93 4721.53 1.84 40.95 2407.30 52.65 40.20 27. A3 .66 170.71 42.61 318.97 2360.B.58 32.99 10.24 22.23 107.39 39.70 5.33 MSD (10−5 ) 10.18 6.71 39.70 506.H.49 142.38 152.43 FDM parameter Air gap Raster angle Raster width Layer thickness Degrees of freedom 2 2 2 2 18 26 Sum of squares 2125. and mDopt the average throwing distance for parameter D at its optimum level. n the total number of experiments and mAopt the average throwing distance for parameter A at its optimum level.07 98.32 8392.44 152.22 197. It was found that for 10◦ and 15◦ angle of displacement. However.66 4196.45 1.37 41.09 100 the final step was to verify the estimated result against experimental value.94 32.00 39. the average throwing distance was calculated. T the grand total of average throwing distance for each experiment.63 198.17 Mean square 346.43 351.85 2408.60 40. throwing distance was measured.69 10.03 9.21 636. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 169 (2005) 54–61 Table 4 ANOVA for 10◦ angle of displacement Symbol A B C D All other/error Total Table 5 ANOVA for 15◦ angle of displacement Symbol A B C D All other/error Total Table 6 ANOVA for 20◦ angle of displacement Symbol A B C D All other/error Total FDM parameter Air gap Raster angle Raster width Layer thickness Degrees of freedom 2 2 2 2 18 26 Sum of squares 5425.33 59 Contribution (%) 34.80 104.63 99. yave (cm) 96.21 177.83 104.18 FDM parameter Air gap Raster angle Raster width Layer thickness Degrees of freedom 2 2 2 2 18 26 Sum of squares 693.44 100 Contribution (%) 28. the optimum parameters and their levels (A3 B3 C2 D1 ) corresponded to experiment number 9 of the orthogonal array.01 Mean square 1062.36 1.48 1203.91 F 134.05 11.70 95.53 100.38 4. B3 .31 7439.60 104.98 40.

20 169.79 48.37 325.83 331. E. A3 B3 C2 D1 yield the optimum quality characteristic with minimum variance for all angles of displacements considered in the study.60 1. Arunachalam.93 50.09 47.31 1. Conclusions On the basis of the results obtained the following can be concluded: .25 • The optimal parameters and their levels for 10◦ .30 43. Thrimurthulu. J. Samavedam.C. S. Mater.G.6 – Difference as presented in Table 11. C.48 2.6 cm. D. MI. B3 . [11] W.80 275.O.16 48. Mater.53 Table 11 Results of confirmation experiment Optimal condition Estimation Level Distance achieved (cm) S/N value A3 .G.41 50. • The parameters and their levels. 441–448. Table 10 Estimated result against experimental value Angle of displacement Estimated result (mm) Experimental value for experiment number 9 (mm) 125.L.80 48. ISBN 0-87263-467-1.65 3.83 Does not correspond to any experiment in the orthogonal array References [1] P.60 Table 9 S/N values at 20◦ angle of displacement Experiment number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Average distance. This indicates that the experimental value is very close to the estimated value. R. i. air gap produces maximum contribution to the output performance of the product (throwing distance).77 234. C3 . Mohd. Machine Tools Manuf. The material for FDM experiment is also financially supported partly by USM short-term grant #6035064.50 164.93 45.09 44. pp. [10] L.60 46.00 253. S. [6] J.V.V. Howell.55 1. J. • For 10◦ angle of displacement. Dearbon. Elkins. yave (cm) 250.M. pp. Wiley. M. 38 (4) (1998) 329–392.K.09 3. Chen.H. P.B.82 1. Dhande. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 169 (2005) 54–61 Table 8 S/N values at 15◦ angle of displacement Experiment number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Average distance. Technical support from the rapid prototyping laboratory personnel.68 48. Machine Tool Manuf. J. D1 331. in: Proceedings of the 14th Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium. Modelling and optimization of rapid prototyping. August 11–13.04 2. It can be seen from Table 11 that the difference between experimental result and the estimated result is only 0. 47 (2002) 39–53. Parametric process optimization to improve the accuracy of rapid prototype stereolithography part.20 185.W.87 179. [9] J. Stereolithography and other RP&M Technologies: from Rapid Prototyping to Rapid Tooling. J.S. August 4–6.52 1.13 165. J. 1995.13 304. Mr. A3 B3 C2 D1 and A3 B3 C3 D1 .10 44. Pandey. in: Proceedings of the 8th Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium.10 157. Reddy. [8] K.08 1. Escobar.60 B. [7] R. Comp. raster angle and layer thickness demonstrate almost equal maximum contribution to the output performance of the product (throwing distance).89 3. Technol.M. The University of Texas at Austin. Int. S. SME.90 3. Optimum part deposition orientation in fused deposition modeling. Technol. New York.39 – 0.27 263. K. Radhakrishnan.H. Application of Design of Experiments (DOE) on the Processing of Rapid Prototyping Samples. Real time adaptive slicing for fused deposition modeling. N. Wang.53 275. 5. Herscovici. D.45 S/N 47.97 171. The University of Texas at Austin. 10◦ 15◦ 20◦ 125. • For 20◦ angle of displacement. J. Machine Tools Manuf.71 4.F.44 9. respectively. [5] P. C. Int. Prigozhin. Anitha. yave (cm) 160.18%. Int. 1997.H. 40 (2000) 363–379. B3 .43 MSD (10−5 ) 1. layer thickness gives the highest contribution to the output performance. 340–347. Int.19 S/N 44.37 44. 43 (2003) 61–71. N.17 256.83 MSD (10−5 ) 3. Bohn. [4] K. Hon. Compliant Mechanism.67 44.e. Jacobs. R. 2003. Ip. Ind. 2001. Weinmann. Noorani. Onuh. Tarng. Choi. Gray IV. Najib Hussain is greatly acknowledged. 118 (2001) 385–388. Proc. Design optimization of cutting parameters for turning operations based on the Taguchi method. Universiti Sains Malaysia is acknowledged.32 1. Soft Elastomers for Fused Deposition Modelling.39 49.G.38 45. D. Machine Tools Manuf. Y. H. Critical parameter influencing the quality of prototype in fused deposition modelling. 15◦ and 20◦ angle of displacement are A3 B3 C2 D1 . Zhou. • For 15◦ angle of displacement.32 213.96 48. Janak. Proc.33 213. Pandey. Optimising build parameters for improved surface finish in stereolithography. Nordby. Baird. in press.53 – Experiment A3 . 84 (1998) 122–129. [2] S. P. Reddy. Mendelson. Lee et al. [3] S. Acknowledgements Logistic support from the School of Mechanical Engineering.H.90 213. This verifies that the experimental result is strongly correlated with the estimated result. D1 330. as the error is only 0. H.. J.41 3. C3 .

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