As a result of the success of reducing time-to-market of parts produced using the various Rapid Prototyping (RP) technologies, more emphasis is now being placed on the reduction of the downstream or secondary process time to gain physical metal parts. In a bid to bypass the initial stage of producing a RP model for use in secondary functions, research has been undertaken to develop a system that will directly produce metal parts.
This is a droplet based Solid Freeform Fabrication (SFF) technique which initially directs drops of molten metal onto a substrate forming a 'layer'. Subsequent drops or 'splats' stick to the previous 'layer' by thermal adhesion at the point of contact. Solid models are thus made up by a layering process similar to other RP methods.
A comparison is made between the system being developed and the alternative methods of creating metal parts using traditional means or other RP technologies.