Integration of Numerical Modeling and Laser Sintering with Investment Casting
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Industry has a great demand for metallic prototypes to speed up product development. At present there are several RP-technologies for direct fabrication of metal components in development. Today secondary processing of polymer or wax models, like investment casting or sand casting, is a very common way for the production of metallic prototypes. There are, however, several problems in investment casting resulting from laser sintered models made of wax or polycarbonate. Recently a polymer mixture consisting of nylon material and a second polymer has been tested with the laser sinter process in a newly developed sinter machine (EOSINT 350 - 60). Shells for investment casting could be prepared easily with the models in a conventional assembly-line. Several castings of laser sintered models in Al were successfully realized. In future, integration of modeling based on FEM calculations with RP for castings will become more important. Calculations will support the designer to optimize the structure of components and their processing. A viable method will be presented where a new FEM based calculation method to optimize the structure design of a model is integrated with RP. Optimizing castings with FEM will be supported by integration with RP.