Use tomorrow’s technologies today

by Sheku Kamara, Rapid Prototyping Center Director

Advances in material and machine choices have increased in the additive manufacturing industry. At the Rapid Prototyping Center (RPC), we are staying abreast of all of the changes and are also seeing an increase in requests for parts used for functional testing and end-use parts in limited production volumes.

With freedom of design using additive manufacturing, the RPC is helping designers and engineers eliminate fasteners and glue joints within their assemblies in order to eliminate multiple components. The result is a functional one-piece assembly that can be used in limited production. The cost can break even with injection molding, if the quantities are under 4,000. With 10 installed systems from five different technologies, and more than 15 different material choices in the RPC Lab, there is a solution for almost every problem, especially since additive manufacturing has leveraged the use of secondary processes such as producing masters for silicone molding, investment casting, sand casting, blow molding, thermoforming, etc., with shorter lead-times.

Last year, in an effort to catalyze U.S. manufacturing, the government proposed a nationwide network of regional manufacturing innovation institutes, recognizing additive manufacturing as the most important emerging technology. An institute has been funded to take full advantage of the technology and move it to the next level— underscoring additive manufacturing’s place now and in the future. Utilize the RPC to leverage tomorrow’s technologies today.

At a Glance: MSOE Rapid Prototyping Consortium

The RPC was formed in 1991 in response to the product development needs of manufacturing companies.
Students, mostly undergraduates, are involved in the daily operations of the center which features engineers and researchers who together have more than 100 man-years of direct additive manufacturing experience.

Membership in the consortium satisfies a number of strategic goals such as: cost-competitive access to five of the leading rapid prototyping technologies; networking freely with other engineers, managers and technical professionals in a noncompetitive environment; leadingedge product development, CAD applications, innovative processes and manufacturing technology; access to and development of new tooling techniques, materials and
manufacturing methods; providing access to a pool of experienced employees who have demonstrated that they understand the performance expectations of world-class companies.

Sheku Kamara
Director, RPC
Milwaukee School of Engineering
(414) 277-7384

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