Rapid Prototyping: What Is It All About?

Creating prototypes is a part of the engineering design, but it has been a significant bottleneck although product designers create makeshift proof-of-concept models when a functional prototype has to go through the same process as the final product. While the traditional processes like the injection molding or CNC need a costly set-up, which makes prototyping an expensive affair, but with rapid prototype development, the designers and engineers can create prototypes directly from the CAD data. Let’s see the things in more detail:

About Rapid Prototyping

It refers to the technique of quickly creating a model from the given object with the help of three-dimensional computer-aided design data.  As the parts or the assemblies are created with the help of additive techniques, so the process is termed as additive manufacturing and 3D-printing. With it, the rapid prototypes are created that are very close to the real part of the object. Although 3D printing technologies have been there for the past many years, their use has been minimal.

But as the 3D printing technology has gained maturity, it is being adopted at a fast pace. When the engineers have easy access to 3D-printing, they are quickly able to iterate between designs and the real-life prototypes. Now it has become possible to create the prototypes in a day and carry out the iteration of the design of size, shape or the assembly based on results of real-life testing and analysis. With the help of rapid prototype development, the companies can get better products to the market at a fast pace than its competition.

Reasons to Go for Rapid Prototyping

Realize and explore the concepts faster

With the help of rapid prototyping, you can convert the ideas into concept explorations which look like real products in no time. With its support, the designers can go beyond the virtual visualization and get a better understanding of the look and feel of the design. They can also compare the concepts side by side.

Easy Communication of Ideas

With the help of physical models, the designers can share their concepts with their colleagues, and the collaborators to quickly convey their ideas in ways which can’t be done by visualizing the designs on the screen.

Iterative Designing and Instant Incorporation of Changes

Designing is an iterative process, and many rounds of testing, evaluation, and you may need multiple refinements before you can get the final product.  The prototype development with the help of 3D printing provides the flexibility to create more realistic prototypes. It can implement the changes instantly make it significantly eases the trial and the error way. The design cycle of a good model is designing during the work, printing of the 3D parts overnight, cleaning and testing take place the next day.  If you find that any design changes are needed, then you can iterate the process.

Cost Savings

3D printing saves you from costly setups repeatedly. You can use the same equipment frequently to produce different geometries. Thus with the help of in-house prototyping, you can eliminate the high costs and lead times which are associated with outsourcing.

Create Flawless Designs

In product design and manufacturing, if design flaws can be found out early, then it can help the companies avoid costly design revisions and tooling changes down the road. With rapid prototype development, the engineers can thoroughly test the prototypes which look and perform like the final products. It significantly reduces the risk of the usability and reduces the manufacturing issues are ironed out before moving into the production.

Many applications of Rapid Prototyping

The rapid prototype development helps in many ways which are as under:

Creating POC Models

The POC prototypes allow the product designers to validate the ideas and the assumptions and test the viability of the product. The physical concept models can demonstrate a plan to the stakeholders. It allows them to create discussions and then drive the acceptance or rejection with the help of the low-risk exploration of the concepts.

Speed holds the key to successful modeling, and they provide a lot of turnaround time to convert the computer file into the physical prototype. It allows the designers to test more concepts rather quickly.

Functional Prototypes

When the product moves to the final stage, attention to details become very important. With the help of 3D-printing, the engineers can create the high-fidelity prototypes which represent the final product.

In the End

With the help of the rapid prototype development, the designer can come up with final designs rather quickly and within the stipulated time. It significantly reduces the time to market for a product.

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