Festo feasts on generative technologies
Rapid prototyping (RP) enables the contraction of the product development cycle by a substantial amount of time – say, eliminating 50-90% of it, said Dr. Eberhard Veit who spoke for the Festo Board of Directors during the company’s 6th International Festo Press Conference in Stuttgart, Germany on Tuesday.
In one case, Veit said, an electronic automation device went from idea to product in seven days rather than the usual 120 days.
The brief cycle is the type of manufacturing behavior that one needs to engage in true custom manufacturing on a grand scale. It is the quintessential lean, adaptive, and flexible manufacturing that accommodates demanding users and OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) now commonplace.
While RP is not a spanking new technology, Festo sees the techniques maturing now and that they will enable the company in direct manufacturing of metal parts that, in ten years time, will increase speed of manufacture by a factor of 20 and quality by a factor of five.
RP takes virtual designs from computer-aided design (CAD) or animation-modeling software, transforms them into thin horizontal cross sections, still virtual, and then creates each cross section in physical space, one after the next until the model is finished.
It is a process where the virtual model and the physical model correspond almost identically.
With additive fabrication, the machine reads in data from a CAD drawing and lays down successive layers of liquid, powder, or sheet material, and in this way builds up the model from a series of cross sections.
These layers, which correspond to the virtual cross section from the CAD model, fuse together in an automation process, creating the final shape.
Additive fabrication can create almost any shape or geometric feature.
‑ Nicholas Sheble