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Octree-based production of near net shape components

Medellin, H. and Corney, J.R. and Davies, J.B.C. and Lim, T. and Ritchie, J.M. (2008) Octree-based production of near net shape components. IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering, 5 (3). pp. 457-466. ISSN 1545-5955

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Near net shape (NNS) manufacturing refers to the production of products that require a finishing operation of some kind. NNS manufacturing is important because it enables a significant reduction in: machining work, raw material usage, production time, and energy consumption. This paper presents an integrated system for the production of near net shape components based on the Octree decomposition of 3-D models. The Octree representation is used to automatically decompose and approximate the 3-D models, and to generate the robot instructions required to create assemblies of blocks secured by adhesive. Not only is the system capable of producing shapes of variable precision and complexity (including overhanging or reentrant shapes) from a variety of materials, but it also requires no production tooling (e.g., molds, dies, jigs, or fixtures). This paper details how a number of well-known Octree algorithms for subdivision, neighbor findings, and tree traversal have been modified to support this novel application. This paper ends by reporting the construction of two mechanical components in the prototype cell, and discussing the overall feasibility of the system.