Free Form Thick Layered Object Manufacturing (FF-TLOM) technology is based on foam cutting with a curved heated flexible cutting blade. Three single parameters shape the flexible blade. An infinite amount of blade shapes can be selected. However, many of these shapes are not suitable for cutting. Blade shapes with less than two inflexions can be applied successfully. When two inflexions are involved the blade; more than one different stable blade shape can be realized. For tool path creation and cutting procedures the blade shape must be known. A 2-D calculation algorithm based on (Kallay, 1987) is used. The calculation result is a minimum strain energy curve of a prescribed length, which is represented by a chain of segments. The shape is unfolded by rotating each segment under conditions of total energy decrease until no improvements are achieved. In this paper the process parameters are analyzed for sensitivity and influence on the accuracy and conditions of the blade shaping process. An overview of these parameters is given and the accuracy, computing time and trustworthiness of the implemented algorithm is checked. Typical FF-TLOM process characteristics are considered for its influence on the blade shape The elastic energy of curves is presented for a complete range of blade shapes. Regions of bi-stable blade shapes are perceived based on more than one blade inflexion. Finally a selection is presented for those minimum strain curves, which are applicable for the FF-TLOM technology.

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