Those time-and-resource-expensive questions about materials and costing could finally be cut down to size. Researchers at Newcastle University have now released the Rapid Manufacturing Advice System, or ‘RMADS’.
Originally written for Matlab, RMADS has been used on projects such as KARMA (Knowledge Based Process Planning and Design for Additive Layer Manufacturing), and a-footprint who are searching for bespoke and cost-effective solutions to disabling foot and ankle conditions.
The KARMA project was funded by the European Commission and saw the software as a part of another problem solving programme that combined an Expert Process Planning tool for ALM (Additive Layer Manufacturing), to a knowledge-based engineering system (KBE).
In turn, a-footprint achieved national coverage on the BBC in 2012 for its developments in 3D printing, and succeeds with a consortium of 12 partners in orthotic, technology, clinical and academic research sectors.
Presumably on the base of these projects, and further internal use, the team at the School of Mechanical & Systems Engineering have been contacted by numerous private companies, from heavy machinery to aerospace firms, about implementing such a programme within their own software.
As a customisable code, more a front-end piece of software than a PDM software or an automatic quoting system, its operational potential is best explained by Dr. Javier Munguia, who worked on the project:
The code makes use of ‘relational databases’ which compare your component’s requirements with the 3D printing process and materials properties stored in the system. It is comprised of 3 independent modules: General requirements, Materials and Costs. That means you can make an initial ‘screening’ of 3D printing processes capacity, and take the ‘shortlisted’ alternatives to a further refining stage by comparing the available material properties and costs.
As an intro to RMADS, the school has also prepared the following videos. The first of which serves as a primer to software, the second giving run demos and case studies using sample parts.
The open-source code is now available for anyone to download from github, and comes with the expressed instructions that all you need to try it out is:
1) a version of Matlab or code-converting apps
2) A few tweaks to adapt the code to your version
3) A decent cup of coffee
Newcastle University continues to be an outstanding source of innovation in the science and engineering sector, with this news coming just one month after Newcastle students used 3D printing to help create a bacteria-based lightbulb.