Laminated Object Manufacturing Improves Rapid Prototyping Process (Inventions and Innovation)
Inventor Michael Feygin, one of the pioneers of rapid prototyping, won a $70,000 grant from the Inventions and Innovation Program in 1987. Feygin realized that some manufacturing needs were still being overlooked in terms of materials, size, and intricacy of the prototypes available at the time. Feygin’s innovative ideas on process and materials lead to Laminated Object Manufacturing® (LOM™). LOM produces prototypes or molds layer-by-layer. With LOM a design engineer puts the initial “idea” into a computer using special software. The data enters the LOM system’s Process Control Computer. The LOMSlice software then slices the “design” onto layers of high quality paper or plastic. A laser cuts a cross sectional outline in the material’s top layer and crosshatches excess material. A new layer is then bonded to the previously cut layer and a new cross section is created and cut as before. Once all layers have been laminated, cut, and crosshatched, excess material is removed to expose the finished part. One prototype, or mold, may consist of 500 layers of laminated sheets of paper bonded together. Feygin’s company, Helisys, now publicly held, produces full-size, inexpensive models for visualization, styling, functional and assembly testing, mold creation, and fit verification and packaging studies.