In this paper we propose a general method for making process parameter decisions in the development of a rapid manufacturing system. Given a level of demand, the designer can use our method to select the appropriate type of rapid prototyping machine, the number of machines, the batch size, and other process parameters (layer thickness, road width, etc.) in order to achieve an ideal cost, throughput, and quality. We illustrate our method through the application of Stratasys’ Fused Deposition Modeling technology to rapidly manufacture customized hearing aid shells. We close with a look ahead to a larger problem: the use of our method to select the proper rapid prototyping technology for use in rapid manufacturing.

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