What is Rapid Prototyping?
Most people have probably never heard of the term rapid prototyping. Rapid prototyping refers to a group of methods used for speedy fabrication of scale models of a physical object or assembly with the aid of 3D computer aided design data.
The object is constructed using additive layer manufacturing (AM) technology, which is popularly known as 3D printing. The earliest techniques for rapid prototyping came during the late 80s and were mostly used for the production of prototype parts and models.
Now, the methods are used for a broad spectrum of applications. Additionally, they are used in manufacturing production-quality components in relatively limited numbers when preferred without the typical undesired short-run economics.
How it Rapid Prototyping Works
In order to understand what rapid prototyping is, it is essential to first learn how it works. The technique basically involves using a computer numerical control machine (CNC) to create a working model of an object directly from a computer aided design (CAD) program. Rapid prototyping can produce complex 3D shapes, although the substance or material used is usually not what is used in mass production. The rapidly generated prototypes are often used to assess designs, but they can also be used for other purposes such as enclosures.
There is a variety of rapid-prototyping techniques and all of them typically involve building a product by applying subsequent layers of material. (we cover this more on What is 3D Printing) Rapid prototyping processes will often take several hours and even days to create a single part, which makes them suitable for manufacturing one-off products. The most commonly used methods in the industry are selective laser sintering, 3D printing and stereolithography.
Rapid Prototyping Applications
In the manufacturing industry, rapid prototyping is widely used in creating three dimensional models of parts, components or products. Besides the ability to provide 3D visualizations for digitally rendered objects, rapid prototyping is also used in testing the efficacy of a product design or part before mass production can commence. In many cases, testing is more concerned with the size or shape of a design and not its durability or strength, because the prototype is usually made using a different material from the final product. However, 3D models if constructed properly have their own strength.
Advances in technology have enabled engineers to create prototypes using additive layer manufacturing (AM) technology or 3D printing. Techniques such as direct metal laser sintering can now be used to create prototypes out of aluminum, titanium and stainless steel. The procedure uses high powered laser beams to melt and weld metals into solid objects.
Why you should care about Rapid Prototyping
Rapid prototyping has helped many companies transform wonderful ideas and concepts into successful objects at a faster rate than it has ever been done. Three-dimensional printing of prototypes directly from computer aided design (CAD) data facilitates faster and more frequent revisions on the basis of real-world testing, evaluations and feedback. Clear and detailed feedback is vital to product success and enables designers to rapidly respond to input.
At Halo Technologies, we specialize in Rapid Prototyping for manufacturers, big and small. If you would like to partner with a 3D printing company that believes in quality and great customers services, then we invite you to contact us. We have offices in West Palm Beach, Florida but services clients from around the world. You can also find us over on Tumblr.