Original Date: 09/14/1998
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Rapid Prototyping
Raytheon Missile Systems Company (RMSC) implemented a rapid prototyping method to fabricate models directly from 3-D CAD data. This method provides a quick physical visualization of hardware concepts without the need for expensive and time-consuming machining, tooling or drawing generation. Rapid prototyping can produce a prototype overnight with higher accuracy than previous methods could accomplish in weeks.
Through the use of incentives, RMSC is promoting rapid prototyping tools and good design practices. The stereolithography apparatus is available to all programs via the Knowledge Center Southwest. In addition, the company will pay for unlimited design prototypes to encourage the use of these tools. This approach has converted a virtually unused asset into such a popular tool that RMSC is planning on acquiring a second one. Rapid prototyping supports RMSC’s tenets for successful operations including structured methodology; common tools and processes; agile creative environment to promote learning; and rapid learning as part of reduced cycle time. Other types of prototypes (e.g., selective layer sintering, laminate object manufacturing, fused deposition modeling) are outsourced by RMSC.
Some examples of rapid prototyping’s effectiveness include:
Tomahawk program The original Tomahawk tailcone was a 22-inch diameter by 3-foot length assembly with more than 75 parts and 800 hand-placed rivets. Desiring a single piece casting, RMSC used its 3-D solids model in CAD to produce rapid prototypes and fit test them around an engine to verify the design. The Pro/Engineer model was then sent to the casting supplier, who worked with RMSC to create the part and tooling from the model. Rapid prototyping produced a more accurate tailcone which is four pounds lighter, and can be cast in one piece.
Radio frequency wave guide As a complex part with tight tolerances, the radio frequency wave guide was prototyped in a polymer model. Designers were able to plate the prototype, and can use the part as-is in their environment. Not all operational environments would permit such a use but, where feasible, this process constitutes substantial savings.
AIM-9X program Designers used rapid prototyping to fit check the AIM-9X control actuation system assembly. The results showed that this component needed to be cast since it was impossible to machine as planned. By identifying this potential problem early in the program, RMSC avoided substantial costs and problems.
Designers use accurate, rapid prototyping methods to perform fit and function tests early in the process, generate more iterations and alternatives, and receive prompt feedback. This approach optimizes designs and avoids substantial costs later in the process. Rapid prototyping also reduces manufacturing costs by creating more producible designs, encourages design-for-manufacturing assembly, and constructs master patterns for vacuum forms, castings, and tooling. Other benefits include improved IPT communications; reduced design and manufacturing times; and better comprehension and response capability regarding requests.
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