Machine Design

Rapid-production process delivers 20-in.-deep polyurethane covers in three weeks

A proprietary mold-building process called the Rapid Product System (RPS) slices 3D CAD models into several sections for easy and simultaneous manufacturing on several NC machining centers. The system can deliver large or deep-drawn parts, up to 20 in. and more, in as little as three weeks. Similar covers produced by conventional methods take up to six months and cost three times as much.

Rimnetics, Concord, Calif., produced a prototype cover for a nearly 20-in.-deep enclosure in only two weeks. And the first week of the project was spent by an outside firm translating the cover's 2D drawings into a 3D CAD model.

Rimnetics Rapid Production System Produced the positive half of the enclosure in the company's proprietary epoxy.
The negative half of the enclosure's mold measures 20-in. deep. The ruler rests on the form that shapes the vents at the top of the cabinet.
A finished enclosure (over 300 manufactured to date) is produced by Rimnetics' Rapid Production Systems for Veeco Metrology, Tucson, Arizona. Veeco produces advanced interferometers that measure the flatness of a magnetic disc to 6nm.

Designers with electronic-equipment manufacturer Veeco Metrology, Tucson, Ariz., first considered fiberglass. But the processes would have been too labor intensive, requiring manual lay-ups of material over a plug. Part costs were also higher than expected. Sheet metal was then considered for the enclosure, but its weight and feel were deemed unfriendly.

In addition to the RPS, Rimnetic's engineers cast the enclosure from an in-house-developed polyurethane with thermal coefficients and shrink properties lower than those commercially available. Even though the initial covers were prototypes, the tooling was tough enough to become the final-production equipment.

TAGS: Materials
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