Due to life cycles of artifacts, which become shorter, rapid prototyping development and tight feedback among product requirements, design, and manufacturing are gaining increasing importance. Classical rapid prototyping technologies such as computer-numerically-controlled (CNC) machinery, which remain still time consuming and expensive, are getting superseded by a growing propensity to apply new solid freeform fabrication (SFF) technologies, which became commercially available since 1987.
Although, being on the market for only less than a decade, remarkable progress in various directions such as accuracy, used materials, through-put, and equipment costs, has been achieved in SFF technologies.
However, there are still several technological as well as methodological problems left. Within given scope, we would like to tackle some, taken from the methodological field, which seems still weakly developed compared to existing technology. Within our approach we apply feature-based models and techniques, realized within typed attributed entity (TAE) structures. In particular, we are interested in the handling of additional fabrication relevant form structures and the automatic determination of fabrication parameters.
To verify developed methodologies and to demonstrate the applicability of our taken approach, several selected parts, taken from precision machinery engineering and aerospace engineering were modeled and processed. An implemented prototype environment and a stereolithography apparatus (SLA) were used for integrated knowledge handling, computation and SFF fabrication.