Authors: Matthew Fumo and Rafiq Noorani
Abstract: The ever-increasing demand for quality products and lower costs has manufacturers turning to the new technology of rapid prototyping. The successful implementation of rapid prototyping depends on the appropriate selection of the prototyping system and effective planning. The availability of over twenty different companies with wide ranging capabilities and specifications creates a problem of selecting the right rapid prototyping system for industry as well as academic institutions. The problem is more compounded by the emergence of 3D printers which are smaller than conventional rapid prototyping systems and sell for under $5,000. This paper presents an expert system that helps the user choose a rapid prototyping system such as an SLA machine from 3D Systems and an FDM machine from Stratasys as well as 3D printers such as MakerBot-2 and Printerbot Simple. The program allows the user to choose a particular system based on the inputs of the user to the expert system. The expert system has been developed using rule-based features of the MATLAB, a popular software used mostly for educational purposes. This is the first expert system that helps user select both a traditional rapid prototyping as well as 3D printer systems. The architecture of the expert system is such that it can be easily expanded to take into considerations the emergence of newly developed rapid prototyping machines.
Keywords: rapid prototyping; 3D printing; expert system; benchmarking; system selection