The selection of fabrication (build) parameters is the most important task performed by the operator of a layer manufacturing (LM) system. In order to select the best parameter configuration for a part, the operator should be able to compare different alternatives and evaluate them under specific constraints, in terms of fabrication cost and quality. In the present paper, a software decision support tool for build parameters selection in stereolithography is presented. Build orientation and layer thickness are proposed as the primary parameters for the definition of candidate solutions, which are evaluated according to a weighted multi-criteria objective function. As the objective function criteria, the build time, surface roughness and process error are employed. The criteria estimation is based on experimentally derived analytical equations or computed from the STL representation of the part. To further enhance the evaluation process, the software tool exports VRML models that incorporate surface roughness or stairstepping data through colour codification. © Springer-Verlag London Limited 2007.
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