Data Processing for Rapid Prototyping

  • Patri K. Venuvinod
  • Weiyin Ma


In this chapter, we address various issues related to data processing for rapid prototyping. In contrast to traditional material removal processes, rapid prototyping techniques build a part by incrementally adding materials layer by layer (Kruth 1991, Barequet and Kaplan 1998), so they are also called layer-based manufacturing or layered manufacturing. The processes are fully automatic and offer a number of competitive advantages over traditional manufacturing processes. Hence, they are particularly useful for rapid product development. The entire process for model prototyping is illustrated in Figure 5-1 and can be summarized as follows:
  • CAD modeling: The first step in rapid prototyping is to prepare a computer-aided design (CAD) model of the object to be fabricated using layer based manufacturing processes. For most of the available RP technologies, a solid model with complete topological and geometric information is required.

  • STL interfacing: STL is the de-facto standard for the rapid prototyping industry. It is a file format for approximately defining an object using triangular facets. When a CAD model is available, the entire part geometry is converted into STL format based on a tolerance for accuracy control.

  • Part orientation: Before processing for prototyping, a RP engineer needs to figure out the specific orientation in which the prototype model will be produced. Part accuracy, the amount of supporting material required and ease of post-processing are important factors influencing part orientation determination.

  • Support generation: Depending on the specific RP process to be used, one may need to further define support structures for supporting down-facing areas during part build-up. Support generation can be done on the basis of a STL model or the original CAD model.

  • Model slicing and tool path generation: In contrast to material removal manufacturing technologies, rapid prototyping technologies refer to a class of layer-based material increase manufacturing processes. The digital model of the object and related support structures need to be sliced layer by layer. For each layer, a set of surface contours is obtained and a tool path is defined within the material area for model production in a layer-wise fashion.

  • Model production on a RP machine: The produced tool path is sent to a RP machine for building up the prototype model, including support, layer by layer.

  • Post-processing: Depending on the RP process involved, a post-processing step might be needed for post-curing in the case of stereolithography, for infiltration and furnace sintering in the case of SLS, and/or for removing the support structures and surface polishing in the cases of most other RP processes.


Tool Path Rapid Prototype Selective Laser Sinter Fuse Deposition Modeling Tool Path Generation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patri K. Venuvinod
    • 1
  • Weiyin Ma
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Manufacturing Engineering and Engineering ManagementCity University of Hong KongHong Kong

Personalised recommendations