PCPro a novel technology for rapid prototyping and rapid manufacturing
PCPro - eine neuartige Technologie für die schnelle Prototypenentwicklung und Herstellung
The PCPro method is characterized by the application of CAD/CAM, CNC-milling and casting technologies. This article describes the PCPro method by means of the fabrication of sample parts. In addition, the manufacturing of a prototype machine is presented. The PCPro method entails several advantages compared to common process chains such as Rapid Prototyping/vacuum casting. In this chapter the main benefits and limitations of the process will be outlined. Quality: PCPro is a simple casting procedure without any gate system. Mold turbulence and thus air bubbles cannot occur. The wear of the lower mold half can be easily repaired by shifting the NC-programs and overhauling this tool half. It is not necessary to build a new tool. Complicated features (for example threads) that cannot be made by casting procedures are easy to manufacture using the integrated CNC-machining. Precision: Finish machining takes place after curing and shrinkage of the casting materials. Thus, the parts have a higher precision compared to other casting technologies. Narrow tolerances can be obtained. The complete machining is done in one set-up, therefore no inaccuracy results between inner and outer contour. There is no misalignment between lower and upper mold. Additional clamping for finish machining is avoided. Time and costs savings: The second mold half exists only in the form of NC-programs. A physical master model is not necessary, thus the costly and time-consuming model-making process with expensive Rapid Prototyping equipment and materials is avoided. The expense for mold making is reduced, because only one mold half is manufactured. Construction of the second tool half including gating system, risers, mold venting and mold parting is avoided. 3D-CAD effort is reduced. Construction of mold release slopes and fillets for inner contours are not necessary. Preparation of the mold is reduced, since only one half has to be cleaned. Cycle time depends on the number of molds used in the machining system. Automation of the entire process chain by the usage of exchangeable modules or transfer lines makes this process capable of Rapid Manufacturing. Integration in existing machining centers is possible.