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Mammoth Stereolithography

Materialise NV : 09 January, 2001  (Company News)
Materialise has continued to meet the ever growing demand for larger and larger functional prototypes, especially in the automotive industry. Until now RIM (Reaction Injection Moulding) has been the ideal solution to produce these large functional parts giving a short lead-time and competitive price.
At Materialise we feel that lead times can always be reduced and prototype methods can be improved. Stereolithography for these large parts would be a good alternative, but up till now this technique required sub-parts and complex assembly methods. It was for this reason that Materialise decided to develop a technique to produce large components with short lead times in order to save our customers both time and money. To meet this challenge, the 'Mammoth' was developed.

The production of such large parts would normally require multiple builds of sub-parts and then an extensive gluing and assembly procedure. We however opted to develop our own massive stereolithography machine, that will produce parts as big as 2100 x 640 x 490 mm in a single build.

This machine ┤Mammoth┤ enables us to manufacture parts that are not only massive but are robust and also simulate the behaviour of certain thermoplastics used for automotive parts. All this gives us the ability to create components like the Ford Mondeo dashboard in just one week.

The process of producing parts of this size as a single piece removes the requirement of assembly and gluing, reducing not only the lead time of such parts but also the overall cost, with the added bonus of a higher quality finished part.

The characteristics of the resin are such that the parts can be positioned and clamped in their final location immediately after the stereolithography building phase is completed. It is of course also possible to finish and paint the parts for visual validation and presentation. The mammoth parts can also be used for down stream manufacturing processes such as RIM, which is used to produce larger series with Polyurethane materials.

The accuracy of the Mammoth parts more than meets our current customer requirements, achieving the same accuracy of more standard stereolithography machines. Using our unique 3 laser scanning system we achieve high-quality accurate and functional parts in a single piece, with short lead times. The Ford Mondeo dashboard was built in just 5 days.

The Mammoth prototype for the Ford Mondeo dashboard has won an award from the AFPR (Association Francaise de Prototypage Rapid) at the Annual International association meeting in Paris last August. This award is given to the company that presented the most important breakthrough in Rapid Prototyping in the previous year.

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