Selection for Rapid Manufacturing under Epistemic Uncertainty
Wilson, Jamal Omari
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Rapid Prototyping (RP) is the process of building three-dimensional objects, in layers, using additive manufacturing. Rapid Manufacturing (RM) is the use of RP technologies to manufacture end-use, or finished, products. At small lot sizes, such as with customized products, traditional manufacturing technologies become infeasible due to the high costs of tooling and setup. RM offers the opportunity to produce these customized products economically. Coupled with the customization opportunities afforded by RM is a certain degree of uncertainty. This uncertainty is mainly attributed to the lack of information known about what the customers specific requirements and preferences are at the time of production. In this thesis, the author presents an overall method for selection of a RM technology, as an investment decision, under the geometric uncertainty inherent to mass customization. Specifically, the author defines the types of uncertainty inherent to RM (epistemic), proposes a method to account for this uncertainty in a selection process (interval analysis), and proposes a method to select a technology under uncertainty (Decision Theory under strict uncertainty). The author illustrates the method with examples on the selection of an RM technology to produce custom caster wheels and custom hearing aid shells. In addition to the selection methodology, the author also develops universal build time and part cost models for the RM technologies. These models are universal in the sense that they depend explicitly on the parameters that characterize each technology and the overall part characteristics.