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Direct slicing of CAD models for rapid prototyping

Ron Jamieson and Herbert Hacker

Introduction
Rapid prototyping (RP) manufacturers are primarily concerned with making and selling machines. However, direct input from 3D computer-aided design (CAD) models is needed in order to sell RP as a fully integrated system. This has caused problems because of the proliferation of CAD systems and also the added complication of supporting more than one release of a particular CAD software. A method of mapping a triangular mesh over a surface or solid model (tessellation) was devised which offered the possibility of an easy universal input from CAD to RP. This approach was taken by more than one RP manufacturer. However, limitations soon became apparent. Manufacturers of cylindrical and highly curved objects soon started to request that RP utilize sliced contours which they could produce from their CAD models. In addition, sliced data in the form of copious points in space are produced by the medical industry and by laser and co-ordinate measuring machines (CMM) for reverse engineering. The situation appears to be heading towards multiple choice of input according to user needs. However, there is now the possibility of a new product denition software standard which may help to unify some of the input styles.

The authors Ron Jamieson is Senior Research Engineer in the Department of Aerospace Sciences, Craneld University, Craneld, Bedfordshire, UK. Herbert Hacker is a student at Craneld University, Craneld, Bedfordshire, UK. Abstract The 3D Systems stereolithography le format is a good workhorse for the rapid prototyping (RP) industry. It is supported by all major computer-aided design (CAD) and RP manufacturers and there now exists a selection of thirdparty software which supports this de facto standard and helps to make it work better. However, input to RP systems is sometimes best suited to the format of sliced contours. These may be produced from a three-dimensional CAD model or via reverse engineering techniques such as laser scans and co-ordinate measuring machines. Other sources include computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging scans. Takes a brief look at both of the above methods, listing their advantages and disadvantages. Identies several ways in which sliced data can be used to drive RP processes. Finally, presents in detail a methodology used to develop a direct and adaptive slicer from a commercial CAD system.

Tessellation
Figure 1 shows the principle of tessellation. This involves approximating 3D shapes with a carpet of planar triangular patches. Many CAD systems have implemented 3D Systems stereolithography (STL) le format[1], which has become the de facto standard. Using this approach, an accuracy or offset parameter is input by the designer. This is the acceptable chordal error between the plane of a triangle and the surface it is approximating. This value has no relevance for the cube, which is made of planar faces and the concept of tessellating such an object for le transfer to RP is quite efcient. However, the sphere demonstrates the other end of the spectrum, where a high accuracy requirement will result in a very large data le. In reality, of course, most designs will t somewhere between these two examples and methods can be used such as splitting a model into separate pieces in order to: 4

Rapid Prototyping Journal Volume 1 Number 2 1995 pp. 412 MCB University Press ISSN 1355-2546

Direct slicing of CAD models for rapid prototyping

Rapid Prototyping Journal Volume 1 Number 2 1995 412

Ron Jamieson and Herbert Hacker

Figure 1 The principle of tessellation

Facet 1 Facet 2

Facet 4 Facet 3

Facet 6 Facet 5

Keep le sizes down. Vary chordal accuracy. Overcome tessellation problems. Build in exibility for multiple models with minor differences between them.

The rst point is very important since it is easy to create extremely large tessellation les. The worst case so far encountered by the author was 55Mb of STL (ASCII) generated from a 4.5byte CAD le. Compression tools such as pkzip can greatly reduce these les for storage and transfer but eventually the le has to be sliced, and les of this size have taken up to eight hours for this function to be performed. This does not enhance the concept of rapid prototyping as discussed by Jamieson[2]. Splitting a CAD model into parts allows the designer to keep a le size down to a manageable number of triangles by ensuring that only those features which are important are nely faceted. However, it should be noted that tessellating a model with an acceptable accuracy can also be misleading. Figure 2 shows what can happen. The deviation error in the tessellation le is not guaranteed to be the maximum
Figure 2 The difference between tessellation and slicing errors
Given error Faceted surface

error of the slice. When a face or facet is inclined to the build direction of the RP process, the error can be several times the deviation error. Complex models can be difcult to transfer through some CAD translators. This is especially true for some surface modellers. However, designers can make success more likely by splitting complex CAD models into smaller les which can later be appended into a single le. Unfortunately, not all RP vendors can append STL les and slice them as a single le[3]. Advantages of tessellation include the following: It provides a simple method of representing 3D CAD data. There is already a de facto standard which most CAD and RP systems support. For certain shapes, it can provide small and accurate les for data transfer. Disadvantages of tessellation include the following: It creates les many times larger than the original CAD data le for a given accuracy parameter. The STL le carries a high degree of redundancy since each triangle is individually recorded and shared ordinates are duplicated within a le. The implementation of STL translators within CAD systems varies and consistency of quality is a problem, especially for RP bureaux. This has given rise to repair software which slows the production cycle time. The subsequent slicing of large STL les can take many hours and, except for RP processes which can slice while they are building the previous layer, this is a severe 5

Real error

Real surface

Direct slicing of CAD models for rapid prototyping

Rapid Prototyping Journal Volume 1 Number 2 1995 412

Ron Jamieson and Herbert Hacker

overhead on time for a so-called rapid prototyping technology. Occasionally, the designer will be unable to get the CAD model through the STL interface successfully, resulting in remodelling. As stated above, STL le problems have given rise to a number of software packages which, in effect, produce workable STL and other le formats from neutral data such as IGES and VDA[4-6]. There are other tessellation algorithms which have less redundancy and may be more efcient, such as the Cubital facet list (CFL) format[7]. The problem with these is that they are not readily available on major CAD systems and, even if they were, the chosen RP system may not be able to read such formats. Furthermore, no matter how efcient a tessellation le is, eventually it needs to be sliced to produce boundary contours for the RP process to follow.

to slice. Also, hand nishing of the models can be lengthy in order to obtain a smooth surface nish. There are a number of reasons for using direct slicing, mainly related to the disadvantages of using tessellation: reduced le size (over-faceted models); greater model accuracy; reduced RP machine pre-processing time; elimination of repair routines (these are an unknown in that they could easily detract from model accuracy and even remove features from the model). However, there are also potential disadvantages of direct slicing which include the following: Supports cannot easily be added to nested sections. Ability to reorientate the model is lost. Beam compensation and offsets still require processing. More designer knowledge is required. It could be argued that most of the disadvantages are in fact a benet. Orientation decided by the designer is, in the authors opinion, a good thing as it requires more dialogue and understanding of the process. In the end, designers must design for RP and not for conventional manufacturing if they are to realize the full potential of the technology. This can only be achieved by understanding such parameters as: optimum build orientation for accuracy; optimum build orientation for least supports; optimum build orientation for least cost; optimum build orientation for accuracy of critical features; optimum resin/powder to utilize. It is unlikely that bureau services would agree with this but they have different considerations, namely competitiveness and throughput. They need the line of least resistance. In the longer term though, the industry will benet from increased designer knowledge of what is possible and how to obtain the best result for a particular design. Slicing CAD data This has always been relatively straightforward. However, there are problems to overcome, especially with surface models where a slice can often be made up of a series of lines, arcs and curves. These may not be contiguous 6

Direct slicing
An alternative to using an intermediary tessellation le is to slice the CAD model directly and transfer the resultant contours to the RP process. Why use direct slicing? RP models are now commonly used for a variety of applications, including design verication, cold ow testing and direct casting applications. In most cases, the original CAD model has been generated accurately as a solid or surface model. It is considered of strategic importance to many designers that the integrity of this model is maintained throughout the process from the concept to the nal product. If RP models were only being used for design visualization, designers would be content with an approximate physical representation of their CAD models. However, with RP models being used increasingly for engineering applications, coupled with the overall requirement for model integrity, a more satisfactory method of dening RP data is required. Such a method must overcome the disadvantages of tessellation as listed above. For a particular group of RP users, those concerned with producing large, mostly cylindrical, shapes, the need for direct slicing is urgent. They suffer all the disadvantages of large tessellated les, which take a long time

Direct slicing of CAD models for rapid prototyping

Rapid Prototyping Journal Volume 1 Number 2 1995 412

Ron Jamieson and Herbert Hacker

and gaps can cause problems which can necessitate repair (or ll-in) routines, potentially detracting from part accuracy. This set of curves then needs to be sorted and converted to the slice format utilized by a particular RP system. However, it is more benecial to use a technique which would slice CAD models directly into the correct format. This approach has been taken by CENIT, a German software house which has produced software which slices CATIA models directly[8]. This approach could be followed for each and every CAD system on the market. However, the range of hardware platforms, operating systems and continued CAD evolution (new releases generally on an annual basis) is too great for the industry to support commercially at this time. As an alternative, users could write their own machine drivers. This is an option for machine owners only. Materialise has taken this approach[4]. It has produced a range of software which cannot only create sliced data in different formats, but also convert between them. In this way, vendorspecic data can be produced from a more accessible format such as the Common Layer Interface (CLI)[9]. Recent comments by other users would indicate that Materialise is not alone in writing its own machine drivers. Two recent studies have indicated that adaptive slicing can actually increase accuracy of a part while reducing the number of slices at the same time. This requires an awareness of the accuracy needed and the ability to concentrate slices in important areas such as highly curved regions. At the same time, areas of constant section, i.e. no change in shape, would not suffer from thicker slicing for a given build orientation. In all slicing routines it is important to detect both upward- and downward-facing at areas. Discussions on this, the effects on cusp height and comparative data of adaptive and regular spaced slicing are given by Dolenc and Makela[10] and Suh and Wozny[11]. The mechanics of slicing and adaptive slicing of solid models will be discussed later. Utilizing an accepted standard Hewlett-Packard Graphics Language (HPGL) is an accepted plotter driver standard. Many CAD packages support the standard and this fact has been exploited by RP manufacturers Fockele and Schwarze (F&S) and D-MEC. The F&S approach is outlined in the paper New methods and dimensions in rapid 7

prototyping[12]. The approach, as seen from a designers point of view, would be to automate a slicing routine which generates a section slice, invokes the plotter routine to produce a plotter output le and then loops back to repeat the process. This could be automated using macros or a simple program. One disadvantage is that the les would not be appended, potentially leaving hundreds of small les needing to be given logical names and then transferred. Also, all the support structures required are generated in the CAD system and sliced in the same way. Parameters such as laser spot correction are applied by the F&S software. The Standard for the Exchange of Product Data (STEP) is an ISO standard (ISO 10303), and work on this standard began in July 1984. The rst parts of STEP were due to have undergone full international approval ready for release in the latter part of 1994. STEP has the support of many of the major CAD vendors. A useful introduction to STEP is given by Owen[13]. One of the recent initiatives set up by the European Action on Rapid Prototyping (EARP) was a study into STEP as a tool for data exchange to current RP systems[14]. RP vendors were canvassed for their views on data exchange and several points were raised: It can be expensive for RP vendors to support exclusive formats. Any replacement of the STL format should be more concise and include information on topology. RP machine vendors are either planning or are already able to accept a slice format. The study also identied possible methods of using STEP to represent both faceted and sliced data. Utilizing planar data obtained via medical scanning Slicing is not new to the medical industry. Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners are regularly used to help visualize internal conditions. The techniques produce copious data in a planar form. A number of companies now specialize in handling these data. In Japan, Nakai and Marutani[15] have developed a technique which reconstructs 3D data from MRI, CT or a mixture or both, and interpolates by means of third-order splines utilized radially around the data. These data

Direct slicing of CAD models for rapid prototyping

Rapid Prototyping Journal Volume 1 Number 2 1995 412

Ron Jamieson and Herbert Hacker

are then nely sliced for direct input to the solid object ultraviolet laser plotter (SOUP/RP) system. In Europe, Materialise has also developed software which allows scanned data to be produced on the stereolithography system[4]. In the USA, at least one major CAD vendor, Intergraph, is marketing software to both visualize and produce IGES data from CT scans[16]. This can then be read into a CAD system. Utilizing data obtained via reverse engineering techniques Co-ordinate measuring machines have been utilized on many occasions to inspect nal form. The output from these machines is often written to a le which is then compared with a similar le generated from the CAD data. Dimension errors are then easily highlighted. These same les can be used to generate splines and curves which are in turn used to generate a surface within a CAD model. It is then an easy step either to generate an STL le or to utilize a direct slicing routine. More recently, laser scanners have been used to measure objects. EOSCAN by EOS (Electro-Optical Systems) GmbH[17] uses Moire fringe techniques. The fringe pattern corresponds to height contours, and by means of image processing and laser triangulation the absolute co-ordinates can be measured. Cyber_Site Europe markets a 3D digitizer which captures complex images and can reverse engineer them into a number of different software packages. Its software has been used to digitize human heads to assist in making individual helmets[18].

ment to manufacture a part from the CU data. Fockele and Schwarze were also helpful in outlining their process of handling HPGL data. 3D Systems (USA) was more difcult to deal with and, although the SLC format is now available, its availability is currently logged, and individuals must apply directly for their code which may then be granted. At the time of this work, however, the above was not possible and so only the CLI and HPGL formats were used. Although HPGL supports arcs and lines, the current version of CLI only allows for straight polylines which immediately dashed one of the perceived advantages of direct slicing, i.e. not having to use faceted representation of curves. Boundary representation in Parasolid Parasolid is a boundary representation (b-rep) solid modeller. In a b-rep modeller, the solid body is described by the faces which determine the border between the body and the void space which surrounds it. A b-rep body in Parasolid is described by its faces, edges and ns as illustrated in Figure 3. Faces are the main descriptive element for the body. The face is limited by an anti-clockwise loop of ns. Wherever a face connects with an edge, the edge has a n. Edges have curves as their underlying geometry. A n can be considered as the side of an edge on the connecting face. A special kind of body, which is mentioned here because of its signicance within this work, is the sheet solid. A sheet solid is a solid with zero thickness as illustrated in Figure 4. It consists of at least one closed ring of edges with two faces connected to them. The two

Direct slicing of CAD data the Craneld approach


At Craneld University (CU ), a variety of CAD software is used including Parasolid. Parasolid is the solid modelling kernel of Unigraphics and can be accessed directly by a language such as C to access its underlying programs. In this way it is easy to slice a solid using software calls. Initially it was intended to convert the Parasolid slices to: CLI; HPGL; and SLC (the 3D Systems contour algorithm). EOS GmbH, a German RP machine manufacturer, acted as a partner and the CLI format was obtained together with an agree8

Figure 3 Representation of a solid body in Parasolid Loop of fins Edge Face

Face

Face normal

Direct slicing of CAD models for rapid prototyping

Rapid Prototyping Journal Volume 1 Number 2 1995 412

Ron Jamieson and Herbert Hacker

Figure 4 A sheet solid

faces have identical geometry but different face normals, so that one can be said to be on either side of the sheet. Every hole in the sheet needs an additional loop of edges to surround it. A problem that can occur in b-rep modellers is the so-called non-manifold body. In b-rep models, a body cannot be allowed to intersect itself or even touch itself at a point or a line. Bodies which do so are called nonmanifold. Parasolid does not allow this. However, this state can be accidentally achieved very easily. Consider a block with a hole in it, as shown in Figure 5. When this block is cut in two by a section plane tangential to the hole, the part of it where the hole remains would touch itself in a line in the section plane. This is illegal and the sectioning will not take place. This case can occur in the slicing procedure used in this work as it is based on sectioning the solid. The solid body is not the top-level data item in Parasolid. Bodies, together with other entities, can be grouped together into an assembly. This capability is used by the slicing procedure to group several sections together.

Figure 5 Creation of a non-manifold body by sectioning


Touching line Sectioning plane

Implementation of direct slicing Several procedures can be used to slice a solid. The one used at CU sections the solid using planes, lists the faces created during sectioning and creates, as a rst step, sheet solids from the faces. The loops and ns of these sheets are later investigated for their geometry to build the output les. The slicing algorithm starts with the inquiry about the parts highest and lowest points. The slicing direction is the Z direction, so the top is the highest and the bottom is the lowest Z co-ordinate of the part. The slicing of the part is achieved by consecutively calling the function for one slice and putting the tags of the slice together in an assembly. An optional adaptive slicing procedure is included in the program. When the section of the part does not change in a large interval, the layer thickness is increased up to a maximum layer thickness which is given as one of the input parameters. This parameter is disregarded if the adaptive slicing option is not selected. When a section taken at the standard layer thickness has the same geometry as the previous section it is disregarded and sectioning at the maximum layer thickness is attempted. If the section at maximum layer thickness is equal to the previous one it is added to the assembly of sheet solids. If not equal, the sectioning takes place halfway between the standard layer thickness and the maximum layer thickness to produce a middle section. If the middle section is equal to the previous section, a section halfway between the middle one and the maximum layer thickness is taken and checked for equality. If not equal, a section halfway between the middle one and the standard layer thickness is taken. The process of halving between two previous sections is continued until the difference between two subsequent sections is lower than a certain tolerance value that is set in the source code. After this process, the highest section equal to the previous one is added to the assembly of sheet solids. This may sound very tedious, but one has to bear in mind that, by continually dividing the layer difference by two, it becomes very small very quickly. After only ten iterations the difference is reduced to one thousandth of its initial value. When the adaptive slicing option is chosen, an additional function to compare two slices is needed. This works by translating a copy of the newly created slice to the height of the 9

Direct slicing of CAD models for rapid prototyping

Rapid Prototyping Journal Volume 1 Number 2 1995 412

Ron Jamieson and Herbert Hacker

previous slice and comparing the two. Comparisons have to be undertaken edge by edge, where every edge of one slice has to be compared with every edge of the other slice until an equal edge is found. Trying to compare faces, which would promise to be a much quicker method, was not possible. There is no direct way in Parasolid to compare faces. The underlying geometry of the faces in this application, which could be compared, consisted of unbound planes only. As explained earlier (see Figure 5), nonmanifold bodies can occur during sectioning operations. If this happens during the slicing process, the modeller is set back to its state before the slicing using a rollback facility, the Z co-ordinate of the slice is decreased by a small amount, the part sliced, and the resulting slice is translated upwards by the same amount. The distance is currently set to 0.001mm but can be altered in the source code of the program. In case the result is still non-manifold, the procedure of decreasing the slicing height would be repeated until a manifold result can be obtained. Use of the Common Layer Interface As discussed earlier, the output format implemented was the CLI. It has been developed as part of the BRITE-EURAM project Rapid Prototyping Techniques[9]. The CLI format is meant as a vendor-independent format for layer-by-layer manufacturing technologies. In this format, a part is built by a succession of layer descriptions. The CLI le can be in binary or ASCII format. Only the ASCII format has been implemented in this work. The geometry part of the le is organized in layers in ascending order. Every layer is started by a layer command, giving the height of the layer. The layers consist of a series of geometric commands. The rst layer is a blind layer, which does not include any geometry. It is only included to provide information about the lowest point in the part, because the layer height is meant to be the top of the layer. The CLI format only has the capability of producing polylines of the outline of the slice. This has to be seen as a major drawback, as one of the great advantages of direct slicing is that the real, often curved, outline of the part can be obtained. By reducing the curve to segments of straight lines, an advantage over the STL le format is lost. But, as was seen earlier (see Figure 2), the condence in terms 10

of not exceeding the expected error is still greater with the combination of direct slicing and CLI. The polylines are closed, which means that they have a unique sense, either clockwise or anti-clockwise. This sense is used in the CLI format to state whether a polyline is on the outside of the part or surrounding a hole in the part. Counter-clockwise polylines surround the part, whereas clockwise polylines surround holes. This allows correct directions for beam offset. Note the similarity with the direction of ns in Parasolid. In both cases the part is to the left of the entity. The information about whether the polyline is external or internal is also explicitly given in the polyline statement, where a sense ag is used to state the direction. A second geometric entity in the CLI format is the hatching to distinguish between the inside and outside of the part. As this information is already present in the direction of the polyline, and hatching takes up considerable le space, hatches have not been included into the output of this program. Testing To ensure the usability of the program, a number of tests were carried out. The slicing procedure was tested using several different parts. The parts were sliced and then displayed in a Parasolid viewer to ensure they were correct. Features that were tested in the parts included: horizontal holes in parts (Figure 5), making sure the slicing takes place exactly on the bottom or the top of the hole without program failure; parts with multiple section results at a given height this creates the need for several sheets to be created for one layer (see Figure 6). Almost all the parts contained height intervals where the sliced outline stays constant. These were used to check the adaptive slicing routine. The nal test for the program was actually to produce a part from one of its output les. The Munich-based company EOS offered to do so on one of its Stereos machines able to process CLI les. As the RP machine is currently unable to produce adaptive sliced parts of variable thickness, the part was produced with constant slice thickness. The part is shown in the photograph. For the Stereos process, supports had to be added. These are not shown here.

Direct slicing of CAD models for rapid prototyping

Rapid Prototyping Journal Volume 1 Number 2 1995 412

Ron Jamieson and Herbert Hacker

Figure 6 Part with two results obtained from one section

Plate 1 Part constructed from direct slicing data

Two sheets for layer at height h

Slicing the part with the parameters given in Table I took 90 minutes. Manufacturing it from the resulting les did not present any problems and took approximately three hours. For this part, the size of the CLI le was 91kb. An STL le produced with comparable parameters had 170kb.

Conclusions
There is a need for direct slicing of CAD models. An open format like the CLI coupled with use of software such as that marketed by Materialise enables a change of format to that of a specic RP system. In addition, the old arguments that sliced data are more difcult to manipulate and create supports for are no longer valid. It is clear that RP vendors see a need for both tessellated and sliced data from CAD models to be input into RP machines. STEP offers the chance to accomplish both using one internationally accepted data exchange standard. In addition, it promises the possibility of a more compact tessellation algorithm. Input via reverse engineering, CT and MRI scanners is more specialized. Already, choices in software exist on more than one

continent and it is unlikely that there will be the same need to house these in a standard such as STEP. The work started at Craneld has proved successful and will continue. It has been shown that direct slicing can be benecial in terms of le size and in cutting out the need to slice a tessellated equivalent model. Accuracy can be enhanced, especially on rounded or tubular designs, which also benet from reduced processing time before the build can start. The ability to perform direct slicing on a particular CAD system has an appeal to certain industry sectors. Finally, it is quite likely that all the major CAD system vendors will develop direct and adaptive slicers in the future since they are a useful tool for supporting RP and no one will wish to be seen as trailing behind their competitors in this growing eld.

Notes and references


1 Further details of 3D Systems Stereolithography Interface Specications are available from 3D Systems, 26081 Avenue Hall, Valencia, CA 91355, USA. 2 Jamieson, R., CAD methods in rapid prototyping, in Dickens, P.M. (Ed.), Proceedings of the 3rd European Conference on Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing, The University of Nottingham, Nottingham, July 1994. 3 Jamieson, R. and Hammond, J., Rapid wind tunnel prototype using stereolithography and equivalent technologies, Proceedings of 18th Congress of the International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences, International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences (ICAS), September 1992. 4 Materialise, various software solutions, Kapeldreef 60, 3001 Leuven, Belgium. 5 Brockware, Rapid Prototyping/Stereolithography Interfaces, Brock Rooney & Associates Inc., Birmingham, MI, 1994 version.

Table I Parameters of part used for testing

Parameter Layer thickness Maximum layer thickness Maximum chordal error Maximum number of points Journal le Output File accuracy Rollback size

Value 0.25mm (Continuous slicing) 1mm 5,000 None ASCII 5 (0.01mm) 3,000,000 bytes 11

Direct slicing of CAD models for rapid prototyping

Rapid Prototyping Journal Volume 1 Number 2 1995 412

Ron Jamieson and Herbert Hacker

6 Deskartes Portfolio of Rapid Prototyping, Helsinki University, Helsinki, 1994 version. 7 Further details of the Cubital facet list can be obtained from Cubital Ltd, 13 Hasadna Street, Industrial Zone North, Raanana 43650, Israel. 8 Details of this software can be obtained from CENIT GmbH, Schulze-Delitzsch-Strasse 50, 70565 Stuttgart, Germany. 9 BRITE-EURAM, Common Layer Interface (CLI), Version 1.31, BRITE-EURAM Rapid Prototyping Techniques project, Project No. BE5278, 1994. 10 Dolenc, A. and Makela, I., Slicing procedures for layered manufacturing techniques, Computer-Aided Design, Vol. 26 No. 2, February 1994. 11 Suh, Y.S. and Wozny, M.J., Adaptive slicing of solid freeform fabrication process, in Marcus, H.L., Beaman, J.L., Bourell, D.L. and Crawford, R.H. (Eds), Proceedings of Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium, University of Texas at Austin, TX, August 1994. 12 Fockele, M. and Schwarze, D., New methods and dimensions in rapid prototyping, 27th ISATA Proceedings, Fockele u. Schwarze BbR, Barchen-Alfen, Germany, 1994. 13 Owen, J., STEP: An Introduction, Information Geometers Ltd, Winchester, 1993. 14 Bloor, S., Brown, J., Dolenc, A., Owen, J. and Steger, W., Data exchange for rapid prototyping, summary of EARP investigation presented at the Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing Research Forum, University of Warwick, Coventry, October 1994. 15 Nakai, T. and Marutani, Y., Applications of UV laser fabrication to organ models interpolated from CT and

MRI images, Applied Optics, Vol. 31 No. 25, September 1992. 16 Surgicad package, Intergraph Corporation, Huntsville, AL, 1994 version. 17 Further details about EOSCAN can be obtained from EOS GmbH, D-8033 Planegge, Pasinger Str. 2, Munich, Germany. 18 For further information regarding this 3D digitizer and software contact Cyber_Site Europe, Cyberware Digitizer Sales, Murray Engineering Co., 38A Station Road, North Haddon, Middlesex, UK.

Further reading
Armit, A.P., Curve and surface design using multipatch and multiobject design systems, Computer Aided Design, Vol. 25 No. 4, April 1993. Barequet, G. and Sharir, M., Piecewise-linear interpolation between polygonal slices, School of Mathematical Sciences, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel. Crawford, R., Computer aspects of solid freeform fabrication, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Texas, USA. Guduri, S., Crawford, R. and Beaman, J., A method to generate exact contour les for solid freeform fabrication, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Texas, USA. Kirschman, C. and Jara-Almonte, C., A parellel slicing algorithm for solid freeform fabrication processes, Centre for Advanced Manufacturing, Mechanical Engineering Department, Clemson University, Clemson, SC, USA.

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