Integrated Decision Support System for Selection of RP Processes
This paper describes an ‘Integrated Decision Support System for the Selection of RP Processes (IDSSSRP)’. The basic methodology proposed in the IDSSSRP is a Sigma approach towards benchmarking of the Rapid Prototyping (RP) processes. It characterizes a RP process by using benchmarking and the sigma approach to assess its capability compared to its potential. Although the six-sigma approach has basically been a management concept and the success of its implementation has been on process time reduction and quality improvement, this paper adopts the use of six-sigma tools and benchmarking in the characterization of RP processes. Apart from geometrical benchmarks, other benchmarks include mechanical benchmarks and process benchmarks. Benchmarking individual RP processes facilitates standardization and reduces variability in the prototypes produced by the processes. Following standardizations of geometrical, mechanical and process benchmarks, a saturated database can then become very useful in providing decision support to the end user on a particular process as well as a source of information for benchmarking new RP machines. A case study of the benchmarking process developed on the Direct Metal Laser Sintering-Selective Laser Sintering (DMLS-SLS) RP process is presented using the proposed approach. This paper also outlines the working and implementation of a web-based decision support system based on the IDSSSRP.