Additive Manufacturing Strategies

What are the applications of rapid prototyping?

ST Medical Devices

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Rapid prototyping consists of a group of techniques. Rapid prototyping services can use these to manufacture a prototype, which is often done with the help of a three-dimensional computer aided design. On top of that, the parts or assemblies in rapid prototyping are typically constructed using additive manufacturing, which is usually referred to as 3D printing. However, other manufacturing methods might be better to use for your prototype. Which technique should be used to create the prototype partially depends on its application. Rapid prototyping essentially can have three applications, these are explained below.

What are the advantages of rapid prototyping?

Rapid prototyping has several advantages. For example, it is able to gain a more complete view of how the product will both look and perform. This can be done in the early stages of the design and manufacturing process. On top of that, it will allow either changes or improvements to be implemented earlier in the cycle. Furthermore, rapid prototyping is an extremely cost-effective way to prototype parts. This is the case since it is an automated process. Therefore, less staff will be required to operate. Besides that, RP is a very precise technique as well. Since CAD will be utilized, the amount of material wastage will be reduced. It also does not require any special tools to prototype each new product, which makes it cheaper too.

Concept models of prototyping

Concept models help product designers validate assumptions and ideas. On top of that, these so called proof of concept prototypes can test the product’s viability too. The concept models are normally actual physical items, which can demonstrate the idea to stakeholders. Furthermore, it can create discussion and drive either acceptance or rejection. This is all done with the help of low-risk concept explorations, partially since it did not cost a lot of money. Successful concept modeling should be done in a fast manner. On the other hand, the usability and quality of the prototype are not important during this stage.

Functional prototypes

As the product moves into further stages, the details will become more important. Metal 3D printing services or other 3D printing materials allows engineers to manufacture high fidelity prototypes that do actually represent the final product. By doing this, you will enable yourself to easily verify the function, fit, design, and manufacturability of the product before you actually invest in expensive tooling and moving into production. Here, the time and cost to make changes to the product will become increasingly prohibitive. Even if 3D printing is not the actual method you want to use for the production of the product, it is a great technique to create prototypes.

Pre-production and manufacturing

It is a good start to have a great prototype, but it does not stop there. The design has to be repeatedly and economically manufacturable in order to get a successful end product. Design for manufacturability is very important during this stage. DFM balances the functionality and the aesthetics of the design, while it maintains the requirements of the final product too. On top of that, it facilitates the manufacturing process. By doing this, it can reduce the manufacturing costs. The cost per part will be kept below the required level as well.

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