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Automatic subdivision and refinement of large components for rapid prototyping production

Medellin, H. and Lim, T.C. and Corney, J.R. and Ritchie, J.M. and Davies, J.B.C. (2007) Automatic subdivision and refinement of large components for rapid prototyping production. Journal of Computing and Information Science in Engineering, 7 (3). pp. 249-258. ISSN 1530-9827

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The aim of the work presented in this paper is to enable production of large, complex components on rapid prototyping machines whose build volume is less than the size of the desired component. Such large components can be produced as fabrications if a suitable subdivision can be generated. In general, any component can be subdivided into smaller parts by an array of orthogonal planes, but the resulting shapes could have geometries that are difficult to produce accurately on many rapid prototyping systems. The system presented here creates a decomposition designed for both rapid prototyping and assembly. The proposed method considers potential manufacturing problems, and modifies the boundaries of individual parts, where necessary. Additionally, the system also generates complementary male/female (i.e., matching protrusion/depression) assembly features at the interface between the component parts in order to improve the integrity and assemblability of the final component. To prove the functionality of the system, three components are analyzed at the end of this paper.