Stereolithography, a rapid prototyping technique, for orebody modelling and mine design
Stereolithography is a well known rapid prototyping technique in the manufacturing sector. Essentially it is a three dimensional printing process that produces plastic prototype parts from standard CAD files. At present, Canadian mining companies are not fully aware of the potential of Rapid Prototyping Techniques (RPTs) for their production and mine design systems. Mining engineers and geologists attempt to visualize and understand the characteristics and layouts of orebodies on computer models and in cases where it is decided to develop physical models, the process is timing consuming based on simplified constructions. Rapid prototyping techniques (RPTs) such as stereolithography can facilitate engineers and geologists to quickly and with satisfactory accuracy to visualize sections of orebodies and evaluate alternative ore extraction techniques using 3D solid models.
The research discussed in this paper is carried out by the Laurentian University Mining Automation Laboratory (LUMAL) in collaboration with the Dept. of Mines Research of Inco Limited and the Integrated Manufacturing Technologies Institute (IMTI) of the National Research Council of Canada. The main objective with this research is to evaluate the applicability of state-of-the-art RPTs (e.g. stereolithography) to underground hard rock mining systems. Inco Ltd. is in the process of designing and applying teleoperated/automated mining systems in an effort to improve productivity and benefit from advanced mining technologies. RPTs can play a significant role in accelerating the design and development process of mining systems.
Stereolithography, Mine design, Rapid prototyping, 3D solid modelling, Underground mining, Orebody modelling