Application of Design of Experiments to Extrusion Freeform Fabrication (EFF) of Functional Ceramic Prototypes
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Extrusion Freeform Fabrication (EFF) is an adaptation of the Stratasys Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) process for the Solid Freeform Fabrication (SFF) of functional ceramic prototypes. It is a complex process involving many process variables, including parameters that are operation, machine, materials, and geometry specific. A Taguchi factorial Design of Experiments (DOE) technique was utilized to study the effects of machine specific process parameters as well as their interactions based on the mechanical and physical properties of sintered ceramics specimens. Post-processing software was developed to control and modify these parameters. This software interface wasdesigned to mimic the Quickslice™ interface for setting motion parameters based upon the material and the operation. The results of this investigation provided useful information for the experimental analysis of the machine specific process parameters. Suitable parameters were selected for the EFF process for fabricating representative ceramic prototypes. With the optimized parameters, complicated parts were successfully fabricated using both Kyocera SN282 and Starck M-11 silicon nitride powders.