You are on page 1of 43

RAPID PROTOTYPING

IME 545 CASE STUDY


CONTENTS
What is Rapid Prototyping (RP)?
Why Would You Use RP?
Growth of RP in Last 10 Years
Types of RP Machines Available
System Designs
Materials Used
Examples
How much do they cost?
Obstacles Yet to Overcome for RP
References
Rapid Prototyping (RP) Defined
What is rapid prototyping?

It is a process that creates parts in an additive, layer-by-layer manner.

A special class of machine technology that quickly produces models and prototype parts
from 3-D data using an additive approach to form the physical models.

Rapid prototyping (RP) is a relatively new class of technology used for building physical
models and prototype parts from 3D CAD data. Unlike CNC machines tools, which are
subtractive in nature, RP systems join together liquid, powder and sheet materials to form
complex parts. Layer by layer, RP machines fabricate plastic, wood, ceramic, and metal
objects based on thin horizontal cross sections taken from a computer model.


WHY USE RP?

The obvious benefit of rapid prototyping is speed.

Rapid prototyping quickly delivers a better design communication tool, the physical prototype
quickly and clearly communicates all aspects of a design.

Rapid prototyping facilitates the early detection and correction of design flaws.

In its simplest form, the benefit of rapid prototyping is confidence in the integrity of the design.

Growth of RP in Last 10 Years
10 Years ago

Eleven companies manufactured and sold RP machines. Four were from the U.S., four from Japan, and one each
from Germany and Israel.
RP system manufacturers in total sold 157 machines worldwide. Sales of RP products and services were an
estimated $99.3 million.
Worldwide, about 80 companies operated as RP service providers.
Thirty-eight universities, government laboratories and corporations around the globe had researched or developed
some aspect of RP technology.

Today

Last year, 28 companies manufactured and sold RP machines. Eleven were from the U.S.; seven from Japan; four
from Germany; three from China; and one each from Singapore, Sweden, and Israel.
In 2003, sales are expected to exceed 1,400 units. Sales for 2003 were forecast at $590 million.
At the end of 2001, an estimated 397 service providers were in place.
Through the end of last year, a conservative estimate of more than 500 organizations worldwide had developed
some facet of RP equipment, software, or materials technology.
A $1,000 prototype in 1993 now sells for as little as $150 to $250.
STEREOLITHOGRAPHY (SLA)
Stereolithography is the most widely used
rapid prototyping technology.
Stereolithography builds plastic parts a layer at
a time by tracing a laser beam on the surface of
a vat of liquid photopolymer. The
photopolymer material quickly solidifies
wherever the laser beam strikes the surface of
the liquid.
Once one layer is completely traced, it's
lowered a small distance into the vat and a
second layer is traced right on top of the first.
The self-adhesive property of the material
causes the layers to bond to one another and
eventually form a complete, three-dimensional
object after many such layers are formed.

STEREOLITHOGRAPHY (SLA)
Some objects have overhangs or undercuts
which must be supported during the fabrication
process by support structures.
Supports are either manually or automatically
designed and fabricated right along with the
object. Upon completion of the fabrication
process, the object is elevated from the vat and
the supports are cut off.
Stereolithography generally is considered to
provide the greatest accuracy and best surface
finish of any rapid prototyping technology.
Over the years, a wide range of materials with
properties mimicking those of several
engineering thermoplastics have been
developed. Ceramic materials are currently
being developed.
The technology is also notable for the large
object sizes that are possible.

STEREOLITHOGRAPHY (SLA)
On the negative side, working with liquid
materials can be messy.
Parts often require a post-curing
operation in a separate oven-like
apparatus for complete cure and stability.
Supports must be removed from part.


Manufacturers of SLA Equipment

3D Systems
Light Sculpting
Sony Precision Technology America
Teijin Seiki , Japan
D-MEC, Japan
Denken Engineering
Unirapid, Japan
Meiko, Japan
Autostrade Limited, Japan
Objet Geometries, Israel
Envision Technologies GmbH, Germany
microTEC, Germany
F&S Stereolithographietechnik GmbH,
Germany

STEREOLITHOGRAPHY (SLA)
SLA Materials
Photopolymers are imaging compositions
based on polymers/oligomers/monomers
which can be selectively polymerized
and/or crosslinked upon imagewise
exposure by light radiation such as ultra-
violet light.
FUSED DEPOSITION MODELING (FDM)
FDM is the second most widely used rapid
prototyping technology, after
stereolithography.
A plastic filament is unwound from a coil and
supplies material to an extrusion nozzle. The
nozzle is heated to melt the plastic and has a
mechanism which allows the flow of the
melted plastic to be turned on and off. The
nozzle is mounted to a mechanical stage which
can be moved in both horizontal and vertical
directions.
As the nozzle is moved over the table in the
required geometry, it deposits a thin bead of
extruded plastic to form each layer.
The plastic hardens immediately after being
squirted from the nozzle and bonds to the layer
below.
The entire system is contained within a
chamber which is held at a temperature just
below the melting point of the plastic.

FUSED DEPOSITION MODELING (FDM)
Several materials are available for the process
including ABS and investment casting wax.
ABS offers good strength, and more recently
polycarbonate and polysulfone materials have
been introduced which extend the capabilities
of the method further in terms of strength and
temperature range.
Support structures are fabricated for
overhanging geometries and are later removed
by breaking them away from the object. A
water-soluble support material which can
simply be washed away is also available.
The method is office-friendly and quiet. FDM
is fairly fast for small parts on the order of a
few cubic inches, or those that have tall, thin
form-factors. It can be very slow for parts with
wide cross sections, however. The finish of
parts produced with the method aren't quite on
a par with stereolithography.
FUSED DEPOSITION MODELING (FDM)
Can be used in any office environment
without special venting or facility
requirements.
Material used typically is ABS
Automatic postprocessing is available
that allows you to dissolve temporary
support structures rather than manually
remove them.
Dr. Ryan Brown of ISU has this model.
Z CORP is a representative manufacturer
of FDM RP machines.


FDM MATERIALS
Materials
ABS, Acrylonitrile-butadiene-
styrene
ABS is a common end-use
thermoplastic material with
considerable durability. This
material is ideal for a variety of
modeling and prototyping activities
due to its stiffness and ease of
finishing.
ABS Materials Specifications:
Tensile Strength 5,000 psi
Tensile Modulus 360,000 psi
Elongation 50.00%
Flexural Strength 9,500 psi
Rockwell Hardness R105
Vicat Softening Point 220 (v)
Specific Gravity 1.05 g/cc
Polysulfone
This tough, rigid, high-strength thermoplastic
has a heat deflection temperature of 343F
(174C), and maintains its properties over a
wide temperature range. Transparent, opaque
and glass-fiber reinforced grades are available.

FDM MATERIALS
Polycarbonate
The material out of which CDs and
CD-ROMs are made.
A thermoplastic polymer resin that
is linear polyester of carbonic acid.
Polycarbonate is a transparent,
nontoxic, non-corrosive, heat
resistant, high impact strength
plastic; it is generally stable, but
may be subject to attack by strong
alkalis and some organic
hydrocarbons.



INKJET (THERMAL PHASE CHANGE)
This machine uses a single jet each for a plastic
build material and a wax-like support material,
which are held in a melted liquid state in
reservoirs.
The liquids are fed to individual jetting heads
which squirt tiny droplets of the materials as
they are moved in X-Y fashion in the required
pattern to form a layer of the object. The
materials harden by rapidly dropping in
temperature as they are deposited.
After an entire layer of the object is formed by
jetting, a milling head is passed over the layer
to make it a uniform thickness. Particles are
vacuumed away as the milling head cuts and
are captured in a filter.
The process is repeated to form the entire
object. After the object is completed, the wax
support material is either melted or dissolved
away.

INKJET (THERMAL PHASE CHANGE)
The most outstanding characteristic of inkjet
systems is the ability to produce extremely fine
resolution and surface finishes, essentially
equivalent to CNC machines.
The technique is very slow for large objects.
While the size of the machine and materials are
office-friendly, the use of a milling head
creates noise which may be objectionable in an
office environment.
All thermal phase change inkjets have
material limitations and make fragile parts. The
applications range from concept models to
precise casting patterns for industry and the
arts, particularly jewelry.
3D Systems is a representative manufacturer of
Inkjet RP machines.

INKJET (PHOTOPOLYMER WIDE AREA HEAD)
The process is based on photopolymers,
but uses a wide area inkjet head to
layerwise deposit both build and support
materials. It subsequently completely
cures each layer after it is deposited with
a UV flood lamp mounted on the print
head.
The support material, which is also a
photopolymer, is removed by washing it
away in a secondary operation. The low
initial system price, approximately $65K,
and specifications that are similar to
laser-based stereolithography systems
costing ten times as much make this an
important technology to watch.
Objet Geometries Ltd., is a
representative manufacturer of wide area
inkjet RP machines.
SELECTIVE LASER SINTERING (SLS)
Thermoplastic powder is spread by a roller
over the surface of a build cylinder. The piston
in the cylinder moves down one object layer
thickness to accommodate the new layer of
powder.
The powder delivery system is similar in
function to the build cylinder. Here, a piston
moves upward incrementally to supply a
measured quantity of powder for each layer.
A laser beam is then traced over the surface of
this tightly compacted powder to selectively
melt and bond it to form a layer of the object.
The fabrication chamber is maintained at a
temperature just below the melting point of the
powder so that heat from the laser need only
elevate the temperature slightly to cause
sintering. This greatly speeds up the process.
The process is repeated until the entire object is
fabricated.
SELECTIVE LASER SINTERING
After the object is fully formed, the
piston is raised to elevate it. Excess
powder is simply brushed away and final
manual finishing may be carried out.
No supports are required with this
method since overhangs and undercuts
are supported by the solid powder bed.
SLS offers the key advantage of making
functional parts in essentially final
materials. However, the system is
mechanically more complex than most
other technologies.


SELECTIVE LASER SINTERING
Materials
A variety of thermoplastic materials such
as nylon, glass filled nylon, and
polystyrene are available. The method
has also been extended to provide direct
fabrication of metal and ceramic objects
and tools.
Since the objects are sintered they are
porous. It may be necessary to infiltrate
the part, especially metals, with another
material to improve mechanical
characteristics.

Impellers for an aerospace application directly
fabricated by selective laser sintering (SLS).
3Dimensional Printing
Three dimensional printing was developed at
MIT. It's often used as a direct manufacturing
process as well as for rapid prototyping.
The process starts by depositing a layer of
powder object material at the top of a
fabrication chamber. To accomplish this, a
measured quantity of powder is first dispensed
from a similar supply chamber by moving a
piston upward incrementally. The roller then
distributes and compresses the powder at the
top of the fabrication chamber.
The multi-channel jetting head subsequently
deposits a liquid adhesive in a two dimensional
pattern onto the layer of the powder which
becomes bonded in the areas where the
adhesive is deposited, to form a layer of the
object.
3Dimensional Printing
Once a layer is completed, the fabrication
piston moves down by the thickness of a layer,
and the process is repeated until the entire
object is formed within the powder bed. After
completion, the object is elevated and the extra
powder brushed away leaving a "green" object.
No external supports are required during
fabrication since the powder bed supports
overhangs.
Three dimensional printing offers the
advantages of speedy fabrication and low
materials cost. In fact, it's probably the fastest
of all RP methods. Recently color output has
also become available. However, there are
limitations on resolution, surface finish, part
fragility and available materials.
3Dimensional Printing
3D printing is a less costly and less capable
variation of rapid prototyping (RP) technology.
Vendor companies are positioning them as
machines that can give you a quick and
inexpensive model early in the design process.
Because of their relatively low cost, small size,
and office friendliness, user companies are
installing them in offices near their CAD
systems.
The results of finite element analysis are being
applied to RP using Z Corp.'s Z402C color 3-D
printer. The effect is an easily interpreted FEA
stress plot.
Example products are the Z402C from Z
Corporation, Dimension from Stratasys,
QuadraTempo from Objet Geometries, and
ThermoJet from 3D Systems.
Materials are plaster or starch based and can be
infiltrated with wax, polyurethane or epoxy.
LAMINATED OBJECT MANUFACTURING (LOM)
The paper is unwound from a feed roll onto the
stack and first bonded to the previous layer
using a heated roller which melts a plastic
coating on the bottom side of the paper.
The profiles are then traced by a laser optics
system that is mounted to an X-Y stage.
After cutting of the layer is complete, excess
paper is cut away to separate the layer from the
web. Waste paper is wound on a take-up roll.
The method is self-supporting for overhangs
and undercuts.
Areas of cross sections which are to be
removed in the final object are heavily cross-
hatched with the laser to facilitate removal. It
can be time consuming to remove extra
material for some geometries, however.
LAMINATED OBJECT MANUFACTURING (LOM)
In general, the finish, accuracy and stability of
paper objects are not as good as for materials
used with other RP methods. However,
material costs are very low, and objects have
the look and feel of wood and can be worked
and finished in the same manner.
This has fostered applications such as patterns
for sand castings. While there are limitations
on materials, work has been done with plastics,
composites, ceramics and metals. Some of
these materials are available on a limited
commercial basis.
The principal commercial provider of LOM
systems, Helisys, ceased operation in 2000.
However, there are several other companies
with either similar LOM technology, or in early
commercial stages.
Cubic Technologies is a representative
manufacturer of LOM RP machines.

Terrain model of the earth fabricated by laminated
object manufacturing (LOM).
LASER ENGINEERED NET SHAPING (LENS)
Laser Engineered Net Shaping (LENS)
technologies are in early stages of
commercialization.
A high power laser is used to melt metal
powder supplied coaxially to the focus of the
laser beam through a deposition head.
The laser beam typically travels through the
center of the head and is focused to a small
spot by one or more lenses. The X-Y table is
moved to fabricate each layer of the object.
The head is moved up vertically as each layer
is completed. Metal powders are delivered and
distributed around the circumference of the
head either by gravity, or by using a
pressurized carrier gas.
An inert shroud gas is often used to shield the
melt pool from atmospheric oxygen for better
control of properties, and to promote layer to
layer adhesion by providing better surface
wetting.

LASER ENGINEERED NET SHAPING
A variety of materials can be used such as
stainless steel, Inconel, copper, aluminum and
titanium.
The strength of the technology lies in the
ability to fabricate fully-dense metal parts with
good metallurgical properties at reasonable
speeds.
Objects fabricated are near net shape, but
generally will require finish machining.
They have good grain structure, and have
properties similar to, or even better than the
intrinsic materials.
Selective laser sintering (SLS) is at present the
only other commercialized RP process that can
produce metal parts directly.
LENS forming methods have fewer material
limitations than SLS, don't require secondary
firing operations as some of those processes
do, and can also be used to repair parts as well
as fabricate them.


Titanium Engine Valves
COST OF RP SYSTEMS
Stereo- Wide Area Single Jet Three
lithography Inkjet Inkjet Dimensional
Printing
Cubic
Technologies
Maximum Part
Size (inches) 20 x 20 x 24 10 x 8 x 8 15 x 13 x 18 24 x 20 x 24 12 x 6 x 9 20 x 24 x 16 32 x 22 x 20
Speed average good average to fair poor poor excellent good
Accuracy very good good good fair excellent fair fair
fair to poor
(depending on
application)
market leader, market leader, market leader,
office okay,
accuracy, speed, large part size,
large part size, office okay, accuracy,
price,
finish, office okay, good for large
castings,
accuracy, materials,
materials,
office okay, price, material cost
wide product line color,
price
size and weight, size and weight, speed, limited materials, part stability,
fragile parts, system price, limited materials, fragile parts, smoke
limited materials, surface finish part size finish finish and accuracy
part size
System Price $75-800K $50K $300K $30-300K $70K-80K $30K-70K $120-240K
plastics $75-110 $100 $30-60 $115-185 $100 $9
metal $25-30
$5
starch:
(foundry sand)
$0.35 / cu in
plaster:
$0.60 / cu in
+ infiltrant
3D Systems Stratasys Solidscape
Technology >>
Selective Laser
Sintering
Fused Deposition
Modeling
Laminated Object
Manufacturing
Z Corp.
General Qualitative Features
Surface Finish very good fair fair fair excellent fair
Representative
Vendor >>
Strengths
Weaknesses
post processing,
messy liquids
speed
Material Costs $/pound
other $5-8 (paper)
TURNAROUND TIMES
Technology - >> Inkjet FDM 3DP SLS LOM SLA
Material
wax-like
plastic ABS plaster polystyrene paper
epoxy-based
photopolymer
Accuracy vs CAD
(inches) 0.013 0.014 0.025 0.018 0.01 0.006
Build Time 7 hr 17 min 42 hr 10 min 5 hr 40 min 6 hr 51 min 19 hr 39 min 26 hr 19 min
Cost $146.00 $421.60 $113.20 $268.00 $393.20 $789.90
Comparison of Rapid Prototyping Technologies
EXAMPLES
Dentistry
Cynovad (Montreal, Canada) announced an agreement
to purchase several hundred ThermoJet printers from
3D Systems (Valencia, CA), which are to be re-
branded as WaxPro. Cynovad is the exclusive reseller
of these machines to the more than 50,000 dental labs
around the world for the production of crowns, bridges
and other types of dental restorations. The machines
produce wax patterns needed for the investment
casting process.
Formula 1 Racecars
In England, a service provider named 3T RPD
(Berkshire, UK) is using RP to supply parts for the
Jordan-Honda Formula 1 racecars. Some of the 20
different parts are used as prototypes, but many are
produced as final production parts for cars built to win
races. These parts include replacement panels that
form aerodynamic skins, cooling ducts and electrical
boxes. According to 3T RPD president Tim Plunkett,
the company is supplying Jordan-Honda with an
average of 35 laser sintered parts per week with a
typical deliver of only 48 hours.
EXAMPLES
Custom Filters
Using 3-D printing (3DP) technology from the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Specific
Surface (Franklin, MA) is manufacturing highly
complex ceramic filters that are applied to everything
from making soy sauce to filtering diesel emissions.
Using its CeraPrint process, Specific Surface produces
filters in quantities of 10 to 100,000.

Toxicology Studies
Doug Greenwood of Product Development Service
(Durham, NC) has used DSM Somos' (New Castle,
DE) WaterClear material to model a human nasal
passage for CIIT Centers for Health Research. The
transparency of the cured photopolymer permits
visualization of air and particulate flow for improved
understanding of chemical interaction with the nasal
membrane. Both companies believe that the
complexity of this internal passage makes it nearly
impossible to physically model using any method other
than RP.

EXAMPLES
Miniature Parts
RP processes are producing very small parts, some as tiny as a red blood cell. The University of Southern California is
using a process it calls electrochemical fabrication that electro-deposits nickel layer-by-layer using a masking technique.
With this method, it is possible to produce working mechanisms that measure 100 microns (0.004 inch) in height.
World's Smallest Robot
Using stereolithography, Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, NM) has built what it believes is the world's
smallest untethered robot. The mobile unit weighs less than one ounce and measures 0.25 cubic inch.
Hearing Aids
Many of the major manufacturers of hearing aids are in the early stages of using RP to mass customize their products in
impressive volumes. Some of these companies produce more than 1,000 in-the-ear hearing aids per day, each being
unique in its shape and size. A silicone rubber impression of the ear canal is digitized with an optical scanner, which leads
to an STL file and RP for the rapid production of the hearing aid shell.
Burn Masks
RP is being using to produce custom-fit masks that reduce scarring on burn victims. The process begins by digitizing the
patient using non-contact optical scanning. The scan data is used to produce an RP model of a mask that fits perfectly to
the patient's face.
EXAMPLES
RP for the Production of Finished Manufactured Parts
An increasing number of companies have demonstrated RP's ability to produce finished goods. These
progressive companies have laid the groundwork for others to follow. Additional examples include:
Technikon Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa) using laser sintering to manufacture a monitoring
device for fitness centers; and a user of Stratasys' (Eden Prairie, MN) FDM Titan producing a
polycarbonate replacement pulley for an industrial belt sander.
Growing Demand in the Medical I ndustry
Many medical applications demand some level of personal customization, and RP has demonstrated the
ability to address this need. Andy Christensen of Medical Modeling LLC (Golden, CO) says the demand
for RP models in the medical industry has doubled during the past two to three years. Align Technology
(Santa Clara, CA) has developed more than one million RP models, using its stereolithography machines
to produce its Invisalign invisible plastic aligners for straightening adult teeth. Separately, Interpore
Cross International (Irvine, CA), a medical device company, is using seven ModelMaker machines from
Solidscape (Merrimack, NH) to manufacture spinal implants.
Micro Parts
With computers and hand-held electronic devices shrinking, the appetite for small parts grows. RP's
style of building parts in layers, coupled with lasers, makes it possible to produce very small parts and
assemblies that are highly complex. The number of activities in this area suggests that a trend is
developing for the production of miniature parts through RP for wide ranging applications and products
such as actuators and sensors.


Obstacles Yet to Overcome for RP

Produce a truly push-button system.
Build metal parts and tools directly. We have
experienced some impressive progress
throughout the past few years, but many would
argue that the development of machines that
produce metal parts leaves room for
improvement.
Accept smooth surface data from the CAD
systems. RP systems still do not accept
mathematically smooth surface data.
Fortunately, the cost and performance of
desktop computers have improved so much
that it is no longer a problem to reduce the
triangular facet size in STL models to the point
at which the surfaces appear smooth.

RP vendors must become fiscally sound.
Today, most companies in the business of
manufacturing RP systems continue to
struggle.
Improve the price/performance ratio. Vendors
continue to introduce new machines that give
customers a bigger bang for the buck. Many
customer prospects have voiced their views on
the idea of a low-cost machine. To some, low
cost means $20,000. To others, it means
$2,000. We have yet to reach either milestone,
although we are closing in on the first one.

FUTURE OF RP
In analyzing the computer industry, Bill Gates once said that people tend to over estimate
what will happen in three years and underestimate what will occur in six.

10 Predictions for the Future of RP
1. The "chasm" is crossed. The gap in the technology lifecycle adoption curve is created
by the difference in decision-making style between risk-taking early adopters and the
majority. Until the chasm is bridged, technology cannot gain the momentum that propels it
into wide use.
2. A 24 percent decline in system manufacturers. Survival for today's 28 RP machine
manufacturers is not guaranteed. Several are on life support and are unlikely to sustain
existence in their present form. Nine of the current vendors will fail or be acquired by
another organization.
3. A Fortune 500 company explodes onto the stage. The RP industry will become too
attractive for major players to ignore. 3D Systems may have enabled this development by
paving the way for Canon. On June 14, 2000, 3D Systems announced that Canon Sales
Company would market ThermoJet systems in Japan. Canon may be using this distribution
strategy to survey the RP landscape to plan its entry into the world of 3-D printing.
Whether it's Canon, Hewlett-Packard or Fuji-Xerox, an established company will
manufacture, distribute and support a 3-D printer.
FUTURE OF RP
4. A common tool in education. A significant plunge in the price of an RP machine will
make it possible for even the most budget-strapped schools to claim ownership. With
special educational offers, hundreds of public and private schools throughout the U.S. will
purchase an inexpensive, but impressively functional, 3-D printer.
5. I ntolerance for the three H's. Hazards, hassles and headaches will not be tolerated.
6. The I nternet takes hold of RP transactions. Overburdened project engineers will not
have the luxury of spending days to secure quotes, outsource prototypes and manage the
supply chain. Using the wide-reaching power of the Internet, corporations will gain
confidence that they are receiving the best value for their money.
7. I n living color. The preference for color is obvious; color photography, color charts and
graphs, color monitors and color CAD models. Color enhances the communication
potential for RP. The results of finite element analysis are being applied to RP using Z
Corp.'s Z402C color 3-D printer. The effect is an easily interpreted FEA stress plot.
FUTURE OF RP
8. Digital supercedes physical. Already, digital models (e.g., CAD solid modeling) have reduced the
need for physical models and prototype parts. Today, companies routinely produce multiple versions of
a new design, digitally, before it is fabricated. As CAD and computer simulation tools improve, and as
product development teams are forced to further reduce time-to-market, the number of prototypes will
shrink.

9. Unthinkable applications emerge. The vast array of potential applications is exciting. Organizations
will rely on methods of RP for sculpture, architecture, mold flow analysis, molecular modeling and a
wide array of other interesting and unusual uses. Breakthrough applications have already emerged. RP
has been used in forensics to solve murder mysteries; it is a critical component in creating "invisible"
braces for orthodontics; and it has helped those in dire medical situations.

10. RP translates to Rapid Production. Perhaps solid freeform fabrication is a better term to describe
the class of technology that we today refer to as RP. Indeed, rapid prototyping is the single largest
application of this technology, but it can extend well beyond prototyping. In six years, companies will
routinely use methods of RP for the production of manufactured parts. Investigations are already under
way for the appropriate use of RP to manufacture relatively small parts in volumes of hundreds and even
thousands. Mass customization - should it ever be realized - will most likely rely on some form of the
technology that we know today as rapid prototyping.

Rapid Prototyping & Tooling Service Providers


Accelerated Technologies, Inc. (ATI) Visual models, functional prototypes, and tooling capabilities; 16
SLS and SLA machines.
AeroMet Laser additive manufacturing of titanium alloy structures.
Aerosport CNC milling, stereolithography, RTV molding, vacuum forming, fiberglass and composites,
custom finishing, 3D modeling, industrial design, and mechanical engineering.
Aristo Cast Producer of investment castings, including low volume prototypes and high volume
production quantities.
Arptech Uses Genisys Xs to produce physical models from CAD data; located in Australia.
ARRK Product Development Rapid prototyping, CAD/CAM, CNC, machining, fabricated prototypes,
vacupressure molding, and complete product finishing.
Applied Rapid Technologies Corp 3D design services, stereolithography, vacuum cast urethane parts,
and rapid "bridge" tooling for injection molded plastics.
Automated 3D Modeling Rapid production of accurate models from CAD systems suitable for prototypes
and rapid tooling; owns and operates Rapid ToolMaker from Sanders Design International.
Bastech CAD, engineering, SLA, SLS, plastic and metal reproductions, prototype tooling, and short-run
injection molding.
Bertrandt German company with a wide range of services for the complete development of an
automobile.
Rapid Prototyping & Tooling Service Providers
CAM-LEM Uses a special lamination process to manufacture components, prototype molds, and tooling
in metal or ceramic directly from a 3D CAD file.
C.ideas FDM services.
Clinkenbeard & Associates Rapid prototyping, tooling, CNC, castings.
Conceptual Reality SLA, FDM, SLS, composite, kirksite, silicone rubber, zinc/aluminum plaster casting,
spray metal, sand casting, injection molding, cast urethane, and investment casting.
Design Prototyping Technologies SLA, SLS, urethane and rapid metal castings, composite tooling.
Eagle Design & Technology Assist industry in the design/build process from, prototype to production.
Ekco Plastics SLA, FDM, LOM, design services, rapid tooling, mold design, moldmaking, plastics
molding, and seminars.
Engineering & Manufacturing Services (EMS) 3D printed parts from Z Corp's color machine.
Experimental Factory Research, testing, demonstration, and service center in Magdeburg, Germany.
Express Pattern Stereolithography parts, foundry patterns, and QuickCast investment casting patterns
for a variety of foundries and manufacturers.
FineLine Prototyping High-resolution small-spot stereolithography for the medical device and electrical
connector industries.
Fusion Engineering Rapid tooling and 3D prototyping for the plastic injection molding and die casting
industries.
Harvest Technologies Concept and functional models, investment and sand casting patterns, and
patterns for soft tooling; SLS, CNC.
Rapid Prototyping & Tooling Service Providers
Hoerdler Rapid Engineering German company offering laser sintering, stereolithography, aluminum-filled
epoxy tooling, vacuum casting, and CNC machining.
INCS A leading CAD and RP service and sales company in Japan.
Javelin Architectural models, medical and anatomical prototypes, high-end CAD verification, sculpted art
pieces, and invention concepts.
Laser Innovations Third-party service and support of Coherent Ion laser systems and solid state laser
system integration.
Laser Reproductions Rapid product development; SLA.
M2 Systems Custom jewelry and product development services using CAD, an RP machine from
Solidscape and CNC machining.
Metalcast Engineering Plastic injection molding, stereolithography, machined models, and metal casting
prototypes.
Morris Technologies Prototyping, metal casting, and low volume manufacturing; SLA, LOM.
National RP Support Hardware and software support on all models of the SLA and peripherals.
Paramount Industries Industrial design and mechanical and manufacturing engineering, complimented by
product development and manufacturing services.
PERIDOT Engineering service bureau that provides product and tool design and development.
PML Virtual prototyping, tooling, digitizing, reverse engineering, and inspection; LOM, FDM, CNC.
ProtoCast Create aluminum, zinc, and magnesium prototype castings without the expense of hard tooling
Protosys Technologies Private Limited CAD/CAM, RP, RTV silicone rubber tooling, and epoxy tooling in
India.

Rapid Prototyping & Tooling Service Providers
Prototech Engineering Silicone rubber molding, spray metal tooling, and prototype metal castings; SLA,
LOM.
Proto Technologies Urethane casting; SLA, CNC.
Quickparts.com Instant online quotes, RP, cast urethane parts, injection molded parts, die cast and sheet
metal parts, and CNC machined prototypes.
Rapid Prototyping Center First company in Finland to provide RP services.
Rapid Solutions Silicone rubber tooling and epoxy tooling; SLA.
Rapid Tooling Technologies Rapid tooling inserts using the 3D Keltool process.
3Dimensional Engineering Engineering services, SLA, Actua, and rapid tooling.
3D-CAM Design, SLA, SLS, RTV tooling, CNC machined tooling, aluminum epoxy tooling, Zap tooling,
urethane casting, injection molding, QuickCast, and sand casting.
Shared Replicators SLA and FDM (with ABS, polycarbonate, and polyphenylsulfone).
Solid Concepts Silicone rubber tooling, TrueCast epoxy tooling, and aluminum tooling; SLA, CNC.
Soligen Technologies Offers a process called Direct Shell Production Casting (DSPC) for metal castings.
Specific Surface Advanced computer controlled technology called CeraPrint based on MIT's 3D printing;
manufactures advanced filters and substrates for industrial and diesel exhaust applications.
The Rapid Solution Design services, RP, RT, mold design, CAE, moldmaking, plastics molding, and
seminars.
The Technology House Project management, product design and development, engineering, and rapid
prototyping.
Xpress3D Instant on-line quoting for Z Corp. models and prototype parts.


REFERENCES
http://www.atirapid.com/tech/te_rpservices.html
http://www.wohlersassociates.com/
http://www.zcorp.com/
http://www.nait.org/jit/Articles/steir120800.pdf
http://home.att.net/~castleisland/fdm_int.htm
Rapid Prototyping Directory Comprehensive directory
Worldwide Guide to Rapid Prototyping Listings for about 500 service bureaus,
as well as other RP reference information.
www.photopolymer.com/
http://ltk.hut.fi/~koukka/RP/rptree.html#SL




Bradleys LOM System
Helisys (1991 - 2000)
A staple at the early rapid prototyping shows, Helisys consistently drew large, interested
crowds to its LOM technology. Through the years, Helisys had placed more than 375 systems
into service. Yet, in November 2000, the company folded. Helisys' challenges came from two
different directions - technological and marketing.
Like Cubital and BPM, Helisys had some reliability and maintenance issues in the earlier years.
Although they worked to overcome the problems and did so successfully, the reputation stuck.
You can still hear people state, "Wasn't that the company who's machines caught fire?" In the
small world of rapid prototyping, reputations are quickly created and difficult to shed.
The business mistake that Helisys failed to see was that they did not heed the tenet to find a
niche and conquer it. The LOM process was best suited for thick walled applications, like
patterns for sand or investment casting. But, the market was demanding functional prototypes
and prototypes for injection molded products. Helisys was quick to proclaim "me too."
Trying to be everything to everyone caused Helisys to lose its focus on the company's core
competency. It also caused them to sell systems into unsuitable environments. This, in turn,
created dissatisfied customers - another reputation that was hard to shed.
In the later years, Helisys regrouped and retrenched to return to the application that had
created earlier success. But it was too late.