Available Technology

Prompt and Precise Prototyping

Created with funding and support from Marshall under a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract, the Rapid ToolMakerT is a dual-use technology with applications in both commercial and military aerospace fields. The advanced technology provides cost savings in the design and manufacturing of automotive, electronic, and medical parts, as well as in other areas of consumer interest, such as jewelry and toys. For aerospace applications, the Rapid ToolMaker enables fabrication of high-quality turbine and compressor blades for jet engines on unmanned air vehicles, aircraft, and missiles. The system's ink-jet deposition process for layered fabrication of 3-dimensional prototypes improves accuracy and surface finish quality by a factor of 10, compared with other rapid prototyping technologies, according to Sanders Design. A combination of build and support material is deposited as low-viscosity "ink" by dual ink-jets, which glide over a build platform on a precision, computer-driven carriage. This technique ensures layer uniformity, registration, and exact replication of a CAD design file. A solvent then removes the sacrificial support material without additional post-processing. The completed prototype pattern is dimensionally accurate with a smooth surface finish, and is used directly for metal casting or mold forming.
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