Date Visited: 12 December 1995
JTEC/WTEC Attendees: R. Aubin (report author), F. Prinz, C. Uyehara, Mamiko Nozaki, Interpreter
Tokuda Industries was founded in 1948 as a primary supplier of wood patterns to Kawasaki Aircraft Company and is now a first-class supplier of master models, patterns, and molds in wood, fiber-reinforced plastics, and metal. Tokuda acquired a CMET rapid prototyping machine in 1991, although its first choice was 3D Systems stereolithography machine. Apparently, there were distance and maintenance issues with 3D Systems that prompted the CMET choice. In 1994, Tokuda was the first company to acquire the Kira Solid Center rapid prototyping device.
Shusaku and Yasuaki Tokuda view rapid prototyping to be in competition with CNC machining for the most part. Because accuracy is the key issue when comparing the two processes, they see limited application of rapid prototyping. In a case study that they recently presented in Japan, they concluded that the Kira process was less costly than CNC machining, but was slower. They cited accuracy problems, especially in the Z direction, in spite of coating the models with a urethane spray.
Tokuda Industries uses its rapid prototyping devices primarily for models and design verification. The company lets its customers decide which device to use (CMET or Kira) for prototyping, and most customers are now fully capable of making the decision. To support the CAD modeling requirements, Tokuda has a variety of systems, including Pro E, CAELUM, and CAMAX. It also has a wide variety of machines and CNC equipment, including 5-axis milling.
Tokuda uses the materials supplied by CMET and Kira. Shusaku and Yasuaki Tokuda expressed a need to conduct research with others in the development of improved paper, perhaps rice paper, in an effort to better control accuracy.
Use of the Kira process to replace wood patterns was confirmed; however, accuracy and surface finish are the limiting factors that need to be overcome.
Because of accuracy issues, Tokuda offered no examples of tooling applications from RP.
Shusaku and Yasuaki Tokuda knew of no applications in the medical area.
The standard STL file interface is used by both CMET and Kira. The JTEC/WTEC team's hosts said that 80% of their customers provide CAD files, but they are 2D. Consequently, they must be recreated in 3D solids in order to get an STL file.
Fig. Tokuda.2. A variety of sample models produced by the Kira machine at Tokuda.