Rapid Prototyping Center

Use tomorrow’s technologies today

img-rpc-photos2-2008The Rapid Prototyping Center (RPC) is a powerful ally that helps businesses achieve prototype more quickly – often in days what would have taken a month – and take products to market faster. This joint effort of industry, government and MSOE is dedicated to the application of proven technologies to novel challenges.

Advances in material and machine choices have increased in the additive manufacturing industry. RPC engineers are staying abreast of all of the changes and 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, along with MSOE students, 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 that can be used in limited production. The cost can break even with injection molding, if the quantities are under 4,000. With ten installed systems from five different technologies, and more than 15 different material choices in the RPC, 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.

MSOE is the only university that has a laboratory devoted to all five commercially-available rapid prototyping systems – stereolithography (SLA), laminated object manufacturing (LOM), selective laser sintering (SLS), fused deposition modeling (FDM), Z-Corp processing. A rapid scanning system allows the automatic preparation of 3D data bases from laser scanning of any object, thereby making it possible to reproduce the object using RP systems. The RPC uses computer-based manufacturing techniques and complementary processes to reduce the time and cost of industrial products ranging from functional models to full-scale production.

Established in 1991, the Rapid Prototyping Consortium continues MSOE’s tradition of building strong ties to business and industry. The Consortium includes industrial companies and educational institutions that cooperate in understanding the Consortium’s vitality and success in a high level of industrial parts design and fabrication activity. Companies that take advantage of the facilities and expertise within the Consortium become stronger and more competitive. Member companies include or have included Johnson & Johnson, Harley-Davidson, Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP), Snap-On, Master Lock, Kohler, Waukesha Engine, Pentair, Gardner-Denver Inc., Ecolab, Trane Co., Oshkosh Truck and HUSCO International.

The RPC also is extending the use of rapid prototyping through research projects as diverse as biomolecular and biomedical modeling, architectural modeling and manufacturing tooling. Rapid Prototyping Research is involved in several biomolecular technology development programs including nanomagnetics, liquid crystals and digital manufacturing. There is significant activity in novel internally-structured solid objects and advanced high resolution metal casting processes.

Contact RPC

Sheku Kamara
Director of Rapid Prototyping Consortium
(414) 277-7384
Fax: (414) 277-7470

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