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Laminated Object Manufacturing

A Brief Tutorial
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LOM Schematic Several variations of this technology have been available over the years. Shown here is its earliest commercial incarnation. Profiles of object cross sections are cut from paper or other web material using a laser. The paper is unwound from a feed roll onto the stack and first bonded to the previous layer using a heated roller which melts a plastic coating on the bottom side of the paper. The profiles are then traced by an optics system that is mounted to an X-Y stage.

After the cutting of the layer is complete, excess paper is cut away to separate the layer from the web. Waste paper is wound on a take-up roll. The method is self-supporting for overhangs and undercuts. Areas of cross sections which are to be removed in the final object are heavily cross-hatched with the laser to facilitate removal. It can be time consuming to remove extra material for some geometries, however.

In general, the finish, accuracy and stability of paper objects are not as good as for materials used with other RP methods. However, material costs are very low, and objects have the look and feel of wood and can be worked and finished in the same manner. In the early days of the field this fostered applications such as patterns for sand castings. Research has been done with plastics, composites, ceramics and metals, but none of these materials are generally available on a commercial basis at present. While fine accuracy and resolution are limited by the stair stepping that is the inevitable result of using a fixed thickness material, the parts produced can be surprisingly attractive.

Variations on this method have been developed by many companies and research groups over the years. For example, Mcor Technologies Ltd. (Ireland) uses a knife to cut each layer instead of a laser and selectively applies adhesive to bond layers. There are also variations which seek to increase speed and/or material versatility by cutting the edges of thick layers diagonally to avoid stair stepping, but these techniques are not available commercially.

The technology hasn't fared well over the years as a general solution to additive fabrication. Several producers have come and gone. The principal US commercial provider of laser-based LOM systems, Helisys, ceased operation in 2000. However the company's products are still sold and serviced by a successor organization, Cubic Technologies. Solido 3D (Israel), a low-cost system producer, closed its doors in January, 2011, and Kira (Japan) had limited sales success before withdrawing its product line. Mcor Technologies Ltd. (Ireland) is the most recent entrant. It emphasizes the low cost of materials in its marketing. Mcor is expected to introduce a machine called the Iris with full color capability in late 2012. This has a good chance of competing strongly with the full color three dimensional printing technology from 3D Systems which that company acquired in its purchase of Z Corporation.


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Stereolithography (SLA)
  & Photopolymer-based Systems.
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM).
  & Thermoplastic Extrusion Systems.
Inkjet-based Systems.
Three Dimensional Printing (3DP).
(Selective) Laser Sintering (SLS/LS).
Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM).
Laser Powder Forming (LPF).



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