Computer-Aided Manufacturing of Laminated Engineering Materials

Period of Performance: 06/24/1996 - 06/23/1998

$500K

Phase 2 STTR

Recipient Firm

Cam-lem, Inc.
540 E 105th St Glenville Enterprise Cent
Cleveland, OH 44108
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

Case Western Reserve University
Nord Hall, Suite 615
Cleveland, OH 44106
Institution POC

Research Topics

Abstract

This Phase-II research program intends to develop a prototype CAM-LEM Rapid Prototyping/solid Freeform fabrication (RP/SFF) machine capable of fabricating engineering components (ceramics, metals, or engineering plastics) from material available in sheet form directly from a computer description. The shaped components will usually be subjected to post-processing to obtain the desired engineering properties. In the case of ceramic components, which will be the focal point of this phase-II research, the sheet material is "green" or unfired ceramic "tape" (sinterable ceramic particles suspended in a suitable polymeric vehicle) and the post-processing is a straightforward firing operation. In the CAM-LEM approach for ceramic articles, each 2-D section is laser cut using a stationary laser and either a 2-axis (x-y) or a 5-axis (x-y-z-0) platform suitable for tangent cutting; the cut components are robotically removed from the sled (using a programmable vacuum gripper developed during the Phase-I research) and stacked with high precision on an assembly station; after assembly of all the laminae, the 3n component is laminated (several lamination procedures are possible) and then sintered. The CAM-LEM technology lends itself to the production of extensive "blind" internal channel., use of "fugitive" support material for undercuts or support of fragile cross-sections during building of actual components, use of multiple materials for multiphase or graded laminated composites, and tangent cutting of individual laminae to eliminate "staircasing" and improve surface finish. The build rates for components of complex geometry are prospectively much faster than other existing RP/SFF schemes. Achieving a successful CAM-UK system will advance current model-making technologies (rapid prototyping (AP)) and make possible genuine table-top manufacturing via Solid Freeform Fabrication (SFF). In addition, this technology will enable production of parts which are difficult or impossible to manufacture due to complex internal geometries, desired spatially-varying material or part designs, or unusual material properties. Further, such a system will reduce the time to market for new product ideas, make possible entirely