By CHRISTA BUGEE
BYU’s rapid prototyping machine does not go from the computer to the laser printer, but from the computer to the actual working model part.
The rapid prototyping machine, developed by Stratasys, Inc., helps industries during the manufacturing and design process. “Manufacturers develop new products and they like to see them before they are done,” said Perry Carter, department of manufacturing engineering and engineering technology.
The prototyping machine lets a manufacturer see if the pieces are going to fit together, if the customer is going to like it and also if the boss likes the product, Carter said. Another benefit rapid prototyping offers to the manufacturer is a cut in cost and time.
“One day you draw an idea up and the next day you have it in your hand,” said Brent Huber, a senior from Meridian, Idaho, majoring in manufacturing engineering. Huber has been working with the rapid prototyping machine for almost a year.
The project ideas can be put into several different engineering graphic programs and then converted into the QuickSlice program, which cuts the project into ten thousandths of an inch slices, Huber said. “It’s like a hot glue gun,” Huber said.
The machine is capable of producing models out of three different materials: ABS plastic, a clear, higher grade medical plastic and an investment casting wax. “It’s like a three-dimensional printer, but instead of being printed on paper, it is printed with plastic,” Huber said.
The rapid prototyping machine was partially paid for by the Capstone program because Capstone is involved with developing new products and prototyping and this new machine has help speed up the process and cut costs. The Society of Manufacturing Engineers, a group of professional engineers, also helped with the funding.
“The rapid prototyping machine is available for students and faculty for projects,” Carter said. “We try to do things for on-campus clients and for campus-related work.”
“The material cost is estimated at $500 per pound, which is expensive, but the cost of off-campus companies is much greater,” Carter said. The final cost of any product depends mainly upon the size and complexity of the project and the time it take to produce. The main costs involved in producing a product are maintenance and time.
The rapid prototyping machine is located on the second floor of the Crabtree Technology Building, where the environment is a constant, dry temperature perfect for the machine. For more information on the rapid prototyping machine or for a free estimate on a product idea contact Perry Carter at (801) 378-2901.