What are Rapid Prototyping Machines

Rapid prototyping is quite a recent invention. The first machine hit the markets in the late 1980s. The early rapid prototyping process derived its name from the activities and the purpose for which the earlier machines were utilized.

What is Rapid Prototyping?
Rapid prototyping refers to physical objects that are automatically constructed with the aid of additive manufacturing technology. In its earlier days, was applied to production of models and prototype parts. But nowadays, with the advancement in technology, rapid prototyping is used widely for many applications that include manufacturing production-quality parts. The manufacturing of these quality parts however, are very small in numbers. Apart from industrial applications, it is also used in sculpting. The application of rapid prototyping in sculpting is to generate fine arts exhibitions.

Rapid prototyping as mentioned earlier, involves the use of additive manufacturing technology, which actually takes the virtual designs from computer aided design (CAD) or animation modeling software (AMS). These designs are further transformed into thin, virtual, horizontal cross sections, and then the process of creating successive layers continues till the model is complete. On completion of the model, one may find that the virtual model is almost same as the physical model. Over here, a process called WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) takes place, wherein the final product is same as the image created. Once the layers which correspond to the virtual cross section from CAD are formed, they are either joined or fused automatically to yield the final shape. Additive fabrication has the benefit of creating any shape or geometric feature.

Working of Rapid Prototyping Machines
CAD software and the rapid prototyping machine are connected with a data interface that is called the STL file format. This STL file format enables the approximation of a shape of a part or the entire assembly using triangular facets. Smaller the facet, higher is the quality surface. One should consider the meaning of the word rapid as ‘relative’, as the construction process of a model with contemporary methods can take up a long time, which can be several hours to several days. It actually depends upon the complexity and size of the model. The method used over here also plays an important role. Sometimes, the type of machine being used also influences the time taken for the creation of a new model, though the additive systems are applied. Even here, the size and the number of models to be created play an equally important role.

There are some other techniques that are used in the construction of parts. The technique used in solid free-form fabrication involves the use of two materials in the construction of parts. One of it is the building material of that part, and the other is the support material. The use of support material is to provide support to the projecting features during construction.

In case of manufacturing polymer products in higher quantities, a process called traditional injection molding is more feasible in terms of cost, but when it comes to manufacturing parts in smaller volumes, the application of additive fabrication is recommended more and is cost-effective.

Prototyping Technologies
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS): This technology involves the use of high power laser for the fusion of tiny particles of plastic, metal, etc., into a mass that represents a desired 3D object through the help of a SLS machine. This is an additive manufacturing technique. Materials used in this technique are metal powders and thermoplastics.

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM): This additive manufacturing technology was invented in the late 1980s by S. Scott Crump, and is used for applications like modeling, prototyping, and production. This technology involves the use of eutectic metals and thermoplastics.

Stereo lithography (SL): This also is an additive manufacturing technology, and is used for production of models, patterns, etc., through the Stereo lithography machine. Photopolymer is the principle material used in this technique.

Laminated object manufacturing (LOM): Paper material is the base material used in this technology. In this method, layers of adhesive-coated plastic, paper or metal laminates are fused together, and cut into shape with the aid of a knife or a laser cutter.

3D Printing: This too is an additive manufacturing technology, and involves the use of various materials. In this technology, successive layers of material create a 3D object. 3D printing technology actually is said to be more affordable, easy to use, and speedy than the additive manufacturing technologies. Though production applications are actually dominated by the additive manufacturing technologies, 3D has a great potential to prove useful in production applications.

Rapid prototyping, is now entering into rapid manufacturing, which is more advanced as compared to rapid prototyping machines, as it can be used for large products. This is an additive fabrication technique, that would be applied to the manufacturing of solid objects. This process involves the sequential delivery of energy, material (material sometimes may not be used) to the specified points in space, in order to produce a particular part. Rapid manufacturing is an advanced form of this technology.

What is Information Technology

The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) defines Information Technology as “the study, design, development, implementation, support, or management of computer-based information systems, particularly software applications and computer hardware.”

Information, meaning processed form of raw data, is something which is valued very highly in today’s world. A person possessing the right kind of information and using it at the right time, can surely work wonders. From the credit card numbers which we use for shopping, to the confidential bank account details, everything is stored in the form of binary digits in computers. These details can be used or misused depending on what kind of people have authorized or unauthorized access to it. With the help of IT and our increasing dependency on machines, our life has become far easier, but we are more vulnerable now than before.

What is Information Technology?

The term ‘information technology’ (IT) evolved in the 1970s and if we consider a medium or large company providing goods or services, its IT department will be responsible for storing, protecting, processing, retrieving, and transmitting the information. IT is a wide and varied sector, and is represented in some form in almost all the industries. It is a blend of computers and communication technology where IT professionals perform a variety of duties, ranging from development and installation of applications, to designing complex computer networks and databases. The IT industry consists of computers, communication mediums, peripherals, electronics-related organizations, software, and services. Usage of IT for the completion of tasks in any organization, speeds up the processing and information mobility, and also improves the reliability and integrity of information.

Components

Computers: Computers are very important in order to store and process data. Depending on the size, cost, and processing ability, computers are divided into four categories. They are mainframes, supercomputers, minicomputers, and microcomputers (desktops or personal computers).
Servers: A server is a combination of hardware and software, and it provides services to the client computers. These services generally include storage and retrieval of information. A standalone computer can also act as a server, provided it’s running a server operating system.
Database Management Systems (DBMS): Database Management System is basically a set of software programs, which manage the storage, retrieval, and organization of the information in a computer. This information is in the form of a database and is managed with the help of software. The DBMS accepts requests from the application program and instructs the operating system to transfer the appropriate data. There are various departments to monitor the flow of information, which include System Administrators, IT Managers, Database Administrators, and Chief Information Officers (CIOs).
Networking: A computer network is a collection of computers and peripherals connected to each other through different modes. These can be wired or wireless. The network allows computers to communicate with each other (share data and resources like printers, scanners, etc.).
Network Security and Cryptography: Network security is one of the most important aspects of IT. It consists of all the provisions made in an underlying computer network, so as to prevent unauthorized usage of information. It also includes implementing the policies adopted by the government and the applicable cyber laws. It is also helpful in providing protection from computer hacking at the cyber boundaries of an organization.

The cost of transmitting information has fallen dramatically, and according to a study, the cost of transfer of one trillion bits from Boston to Los Angeles has come down from a whopping USD 150,000 in 1970 to merely 12 cents today. With the help of Internet technology, emailing a document of 40 pages from Chile to Kenya costs less than 10 cents, which is nothing as compared to the faxing price of USD 10 or sending it by courier for USD 50. Hence, it can be clearly seen that there are many advantages of IT, and it has drastically decreased the cost of information transfer. It has also increased the efficiency of employees in all organizations, allowing them to focus on core competencies rather than the technological issues.

What is Solstice

In the field of geographical studies, the term ‘solstice’ refers to either of the two times of a given year wherein the Sun is farthest from the celestial Equator. While this definition is absolutely correct, there is a lot more to know about it. Did you, for instance, know that the December solstice (known as ‘winter solstice’ in the United States), which marks the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, actually marks the beginning of summer in the Southern Hemisphere? Not many people are aware of such facts about this phenomenon, and that has resulted in widespread myths about it.

Solstice Explained

The driving factors when it comes to solstice are Earth’s revolution around the Sun and its rotation along its axis, which is tilted at 23.5°―both of which contribute to Sun’s apparent position in the sky. Interestingly, these are also the driving factors when it comes to different seasons on the planet. As a result of revolution and rotation of Earth, the Sun is directly overhead at the tropic of Cancer and tropic of Capricorn. This journey of the Sun can be traced from the equator to the tropic of Cancer at 23.5°North, back to the Equator, and then down south to the tropic of Capricorn at 23.5°South over the year. When it reaches its northernmost or southernmost extreme, the Sun appears to stand still for sometime, before it resumes its journey. This very period when the Sun is still right overhead the tropic of Cancer or tropic of Capricorn, is known as solstice.

In fact, the term solstice is derived from the combination of two Latin words sol meaning the Sun and sistere meaning to stand still. Similarly, when the Sun is right at the Equator, it is referred to as equinox. As a result of the Earth’s tilted axis, the areas near the south pole experience darkness for 24 hours when the Sun is at its extreme north. Similarly, when the Sun is at its extreme south, the areas near north pole are in the dark for 24 hours.

Other Names for Solstice

Even though solstice is known by different names in different parts of the world, its naming on the basis of month and hemisphere has got worldwide acceptance. Basically, this astronomical phenomenon occurs twice a year―once in June, owing to which it is named June solstice, and then in December, thus December solstice. While these names are given on the basis of month in which the phenomenon occurs, it can be also named on the basis of hemisphere in which the Sun is positioned. When the Sun is at its northern extreme, it is referred to as northern solstice, and when it is at its southern extreme, it is referred to as southern solstice.

Winter Solstice and Summer Solstice

Other than these names, this natural occurrence is also referred to as summer solstice and winter solstice. That, however, can be misleading as the two hemispheres have different seasons at any given point of time. While the Northern Hemisphere experiences mid-winter in December, the Southern Hemisphere experiences mid-summer in December. So the solstice which marks the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, will mark the beginning of summer down south. Generally, the term winter solstice is used to refer to December solstice owing to the fact that most of the land area on the Earth falls in the Northern Hemisphere.

In astronomy, the term solstice is used to refer to the exact moment when this phenomenon occurs. Colloquially, however, it is used to refer to the day on which it occurs. While June solstice generally occurs on June 20 or 21 (which is thus the longest day of the year), December solstice generally occurs on December 21 or 22. That being said, even though rare, there have been instances of June solstice occurring on June 19 or 22 and December solstice on December