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News

Rapid prototyping printing device combines many advanced technologies

National Cheng Kung University : 16 January, 2009  (New Product)
A prototype of a cutting-edge 'three-dimensional printer', a Rapid Prototyping (RP) device, has been successfully developed by a group at the National Cheng Kung University (NCKU).

Many core techniques have been integrated to build this three-dimensional printer. These core techniques include nanoscale powder manufacturing technology, precision positioning and process control, powder compounding, specialilsed bonding and cohesion techniques, improved ink injection and driving technology, and an integrated system of three-dimensional inject printing.

The technique has also been transferred to a domestic company possessing core technique in printer manufacture.


A prototype of a cutting-edge 'three-dimensional printer', a Rapid Prototyping (RP) device, has been successfully developed by the group led by the Distinguished Professor Sen-Yung Lee of the Department of Mechanical Engineering (ME) at the National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) under the funding from the Technology Development Program for Academia (TDPA). The TDPA was managed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) with an aim to encourage universities to take part in the R&D in industrial technologies. This RP technique has also been transferred to the Taiwanese company MicroJet, the only domestic company possessing core technique in printer manufacturing. Withing five years, the annual revenue garnered from this technique is expected to reach NTD 300-500 million, approximately $10 to 16 million. The co-investigator of this project, Professor Wei-Hsiang Lai of Mechanical Engineering Department, stressed that the 'three-dimensional printer', the first commercial RP machine developed domestically, has significant commercial potentials, because of its high throughput, great precision and low cost. In addition, another merit of NCKU's RP device is that all of its parts and assemblies are nowadays supplied and manufactured domestically, instead of imported from other countries, as in the past. Dr Sen-Yung Lee, the Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering Department and Director of the Mechanical Technology Research and Development Center, said that many core techniques were integrated to build this three-dimensional printer. These include nanoscale powder manufacturing technology, precision positioning and process control, powder compounding, specialilsed bonding and cohesion techniques, improved ink injection and driving technology, and an integrated system of three-dimensional inject printing. Besides its use in the RP machine, the nanoscale powder manufacturing technology can also be applied into many industries, such as IC packaging, microelectronic manufacturing, chemical engineering and industries, biomedical and nanotechnology with total estimated annual revenue of hundred millions NTD, equivalent to about $300 million. The technique of precision positioning is critical to precision machinery, such as measuring instruments, astronomical telescope, machine tools and medical instruments. In addition, powder compounding and the specialised bonding and cohesion technique are useful to mechanical engineering, biomedicine and other related industries. Professor Wei-Hsiang Lai, the co-investigator of this project, added that Rapid prototyping (RP) technology is one of the most prominent mechanical technology developed since the beginning of the 20th century. It integrates precision machinery, computer technology, chemical engineering and materials manufacturing. The RP technique 'prints out' the stereo object by assembling components stack by stack, layer by layer to the final stereo work. It integrated CAD and CAM systems, similar to computed tomography technique, to slice a 3D solid object to many 2D cross-sectional pictures. This RP device simply prints out these 2D tomographic pictures one by one, eventually to assemble the original 3D object. With this RP technique, no moulding is required and the manufacturing cost related to moulding is saved, with the computed tomographic technique replacing the use of moulding in manufacturing. Thus, this RP technique is sometimes referred as '3D mouldless manufacturing technology'. At this stage, NCKU's RP device has been advanced to produce a range of colours, which will certainly lead to broader applications.


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