A Geometric Algorithm for Automated Design of Multi-Stage Molds for Manufacturing Multi-Material Objects

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This paper describes a geometric algorithm for automated design of multi-stage molds for manufacturing multi-material objects.

In multi-stage molding process, the desired multi-material object is produced by carrying out multiple molding operations in a sequence, adding one material in the target object in each mold-stage.

We model multi-material objects as an assembly of single-material components. Each mold-stage can only add one type of material. Therefore, we need a sequence of mold-stages such that (1) each mold-stage only adds one single-material component either fully or partially, and (2) the molding sequence completely produces the desired object.

In order to find a feasible mold-stage sequence, our algorithm decomposes the multi-material object into a number of homogeneous components to find a feasible sequence of homogeneous components that can be added in sequence to produce the desired multi-material object.

Our algorithm starts with the final object assembly and considers removing one component either completely or partially from the object one-at-a-time such that it results in the previous state of the object assembly. If the component can be removed from the target object leaving the previous state of the object assembly a connected solid then we consider such decomposition a valid step in the stage sequence. This step is recursively repeated on new states of the object assembly, until the object assembly reaches a state where it only consists of one component.

When an object-decomposition has been found that leads to a feasible stage sequence, the gross mold for each stage is computed and decomposed into two or more pieces to facilitate the molding operation. We expect that our algorithm will provide the necessary foundations for automating the design of multi-stage molds and therefore will help in significantly reducing the mold design lead-time for multi-stage molds.