System Design for Object Reconstruction Using Information-Based Manufacturing

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The recent advancement of computers, both hardware and software, has led to a rapid development of information-based manufacturing. Applications of laser technology are revolutionizing the process of product development. Their numerous applications even reach the research in zoology and paleontology for object analysis and fabrication, such as fossil reconstruction. The aim of this thesis research is to implement a system design that combines advanced computer and technology developments both in hardware and in software, which utilize imaging and digitization for physical model construction.

In this thesis study, research efforts have been devoted to identifying, key links related to information acquisition, manipulation, and transformation so as to prepare the data essential for constructing physical models of the objects under investigation. Specifically, a Surveyor 3000 laser scanner located at the National Zoological Park is used for digitization of objects. Three software systems, namely, DataSculpt (developed by Laser Design), Magics RP (developed by Materialise), and Maestro (developed by 3D Systems), are employed to convert and assemble imaging data files into a single .stl file, recognizable by most CAD systems. A stereolithography apparatus, SLA-250/40, is used for rapid prototyping of physical models with high sophistication and accuracy.

Unique contributions of this thesis effort include the successful realization of a Homunculus facial skull constructed from only four existing fossil fragments in the world, and a reverse engineering approach to generate physical duplicates from an existing component, i.e., a distributor used in pick-up trucks.