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The History of Free Form Fabrication and the Application of Rapid Prototyping in Minneapolis, MN

October 14th, 2016 · No Comments

During the late 60s through to the early 70s, University of Rochester engineering professor Herbert Voelcker began research that would take him on a journey to change the engineering world forever. His work with computer-controlled machines and tools and his development of a theory and algorithm for three-dimensional modeling changed the way engineering and manufacturing is accomplished today. Thanks to the work of Voelcker and other engineering giants over the past forty years, our own engineers and technicians at Thomas Engineering Company are able to provide expert precision metal stamping and rapid prototyping in Minneapolis, MN.

Herbert Voelcker’s research in the late 60s marked the beginning of free form fabrication, or what is now an umbrella term for methods of rapid prototyping such as additive manufacturing, computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM), and 3D printing. Our engineers are able to use today’s technology with CAD/CAM systems to provide our customers with the rapid prototyping necessary to produce the parts they need.

Voelcker started with the creation of mathematical formulas and algorithms that would provide the base for today’s 3D imaging technology. From the 70s to the 80s, Voelcker’s work changed the way engineers designed a part. In 1987, Carl Deckard at the University of Texas developed a way to use Voelcker’s design methods paired with a new, additive way of manufacturing the physical part. By providing a way of adding a material in layers instead of subtracting layers from a larger piece of material, Deckard gave the engineers of today the beginnings of true rapid prototyping.

While many other engineers have helped to develop Voelcker’s design theories and Deckard’s manufacturing theories, their research has been an invaluable step in improving engineering industries across the globe. Without their innovative work, the high-accuracy computer-aided design and manufacturing systems we use at TEC today would not be possible.

Check out this article for a more in-depth look at the development of rapid prototyping.

For more information about how we use rapid prototyping during the precision metal stamping process in Minneapolis, MN, contact Thomas Engineering Company today at (763) 533-1501.

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