Abstract

Due to the need for large numbers of layers and size limitations, current layered manufacturing technologies are not suitable for the fabrication of large sized free-form objects. For this purpose a novel technology of thick layered object manufacturing is being developed, based on higher order approximation of the initial geometry, and the application of a flexible curved cutting tool. The method allows us to produce physical prototypes with less or without any finishing. The technology of cutting foams by means of a heated flexible blade in polystyrene foam offers new possibilities. However to achieve the optimum output, optimization of the process parameters is needed. In this paper a closer look is taken into the process characteristics and the influential factors which are decisive for productive cutting. The authors summarize the results of the executed experimental tests. In these experiments the values of the most influential parameters were systematically changed and the effects were carefully investigated. The first results indicate that the cutting technology is practically feasible, but further research is needed in order to achieve a balanced optimization of the technology from all aspects.

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