Patent Number: 6,169,605

Title: Method and apparatus for the computer-controlled manufacture of three-dimensional objects from computer data

Abstract: A method and process for computer-controlled manufacture of three-dimensional objects involves dispensing a layer of a first material, such as a liquid, insoluble material onto a platform at predetermined locations corresponding to a cross-section of the object, which then hardens. A second medium, preferably water soluble, is then sprayed onto this layer to thereby encapsulate the hardened insoluble media. The uppermost surface of this encapsulant is planarized, if necessary, for example by way of a mill cutter, knife, roller or thermal bar, thus removing a portion of the encapsulant to expose the underlying insoluble material for new pattern deposition. The dispensing of the first and second materials, and the planarization, may be performed in a single pass by an integrated printhead. After the resulting planing residue is removed, another layer of liquid, insoluble medium is dispensed onto the planed surface. These steps are repeated, until the desired three-dimensional object, surrounded by a mold, is completed. At this point, the object is either heated or immersed in a solvent, thereby dissolving the mold and leaving the three-dimensional object intact; alternatively, the second material may remain in place to form a composite structure such as a printed circuit board. A method is also disclosed which converts a CAD data base representing a solid object into one representing a filled shell, reducing the amount of object material required.

Inventors: Penn; Steven M. (Plano, TX), Jones; David N. (Dallas, TX), Embree; Michael E. (The Colony, TX)

Assignee: Texas Instruments Incorporated

International Classification: B29C 67/00 (20060101); H05K 3/12 (20060101); H05K 3/46 (20060101); G06F 015/00 ()

Expiration Date: 01/02/2018