Rapid Prototyping (through SLS) as Visualisation Aids for Architectural Use

Access full-text files




de Beer, D.J.
Barnard, L.J.
Booysen, G.J.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The Cambridge International Dictionary of English, explains the word "Design" as a "pattern used to decorate something". Whilst this very narrow-minded definition can spark a debate on the meaning of design, it does however imply, that something has to made or manufactured, following a process-chain which started with an idea, followed by the design, and finally, the new product. As Functional Design is closely linked to inter alia manufacturing and building, Designers' freedom to express themselves, are often limited by the capabilities of craftsmen who have to give physical substance to Designer's ideas. The recently completed Manufacturing and Materials national FORESIGHT report [1] from the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology (DACST) of the South African Government shows that manufacturers wishing to compete internationally should focus on integrated product, process and production system design, to speed up production time. This is all encapsulated in Concurrent Engineering, where design and approval are configured into a parallel, iterative process. Whilst it is not only dependent of technologies, technology and enabling tools such as Rapid Prototyping, applied in an integrated process, are crucial in the successful application of Concurrent Engineering. In the past a series of technologies, e.g. CAD, CAM and NC manufacturing was identified to solve these problems. Rapid Prototyping, Solid Freeform Fabrication or Generative Manufacturing - which are all synonyms for new methods of building physical parts directly from CAD data - represent the latest trends in manufacturing technology. However, all these techniques represent only a technological view on how product development can meet the tremendous challenges of the future. In fact, not merely the use of a single technology provides better products faster for the market, but the integration of a large number of technologies and methodologies. Therefore, aspects of information processing, cost, quality and time management, team work, organisational issues and many other enabling technologies like data highways, multi-media or distributed databases have to be taken into account as well. Rapid Prototyping is being used more and more as a key enabling technology in reducing the time to market for new products, by identifying possible design flaws prior to tooling and manufacturing, and is providing the common focus for multidisciplinary groups, around which to resolve design and development questions. Barkan and Iansti present RP as a means of rapid learning at every stage of the design process. Adopting this view on the whole of the development process, one comes to the conclusion that the use of RP to enable Rapid Product Development, is a fundamental challenge that must be addressed by all manufacturers to remain competitive in today's global market place. 35 In defining manufacturing, one tends to think about plastic products, casting, tooling concerned, and mass production. Whilst this represents the latest trends in manufacturing, one of the oldest methods of manufacturing however, is the conversion of basic raw materials into accommodation, shelters, etc. In adopting Rapid Prototyping and related technologies into the built and architecture environment, numerous new opportunities open up. The paper describes a fresh approach into an age-old industry.


LCSH Subject Headings