Rapid prototyping is now being used in multiple industries to manufacture prototypes, parts, or other products. It is specifically useful in medical and electrical works. If you’ve come across the term but don’t know much about it, we’ve got you covered!
Here’s a comprehensive guide to rapid prototyping—what it is, its types, and how it’s beneficial to us.
What is Rapid Prototyping?
Rapid prototyping refers to the quick creation of manufacturing parts or prototypes. The process makes use of 3D computer-aided design or CAD. 3D printing is usually used for creating a rapid prototype.
The process has gained popularity over a short time period as it is quick and can fabricate even the most intricate designs. This increases your ability to refine your design for the perfect outcome.
Types of Rapid Prototyping:
Rapid prototyping can be done using a variety of different methods; the major ones are discussed here.
SLA has been used commercially for quite some time now. It is a 3D printing technique that makes use of UV light and targets the light-sensitive material, and turns it into solid plastic. The final product made using SLA usually has a smooth finish and is strong.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS):
The finish of products created by SLS is comparatively rough. However, SLS is great at creating the most intricate of designs due to its additive nature. SLS is relatively new and was patented in the 1980s. Powdered thermoplastic is fused into the product shape with the help of a strong laser.
In binder jetting, nozzles spray a liquid glue on a bed of powdered plastic which binds them layer by layer. A roller is then run on each layer to seal the product. The final product obtained through binder jetting is not very strong, but it is extremely cost-effective. The product may be later put in an oven to burn off the binding agent so that only plastic material is left.
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM):
FDM printers are widely used in the automotive industry while also having a broad variety of non-industrial applications. FDM also referred to as material jetting, makes use of a thin plastic filament that creates 3D printed images. It is important for you to have a design format that the FDM printer can read. The most common file type is the .stl format. Using FDM, we can incorporate different colors and types of plastics. It is inexpensive and safe to use. Hence it is commonly used in classrooms to demonstrated concepts.
Digital Light Processing (DLP):
DLP is similar to SLA in that it makes use of polymerization of resins to form the final product. However, DLP doesn’t resort to ultraviolet laser beams, rather uses a more conventional UV light projector. DLP printers create a smooth finish with more strength. DLP, in contrast to SLA, needs a support structure and sometimes may require post-curing.
Advantages of Rapid Prototyping:
Now that we know the basics of what rapid prototyping is and how it works, let’s have a look at the major advantages of the process:
Like the name suggests, rapid prototyping is quick and saves you a lot of time. Not only does it reduce the prototype manufacturing time but it also affects the overall product design timeline, making the whole process quicker. Depending on your project requirements and part dimensions, you can get your prototype created within hours.
It Gives You Freedom to Explore:
With rapid prototyping, you can now replicate designs with interlacing patterns and sharp edges. This either isn’t possible with other technologies or takes up a fortune to get made. Also since it’s an additive method, you can change the design in the middle of manufacturing. All of these features give you the room to explore your product design.
Not just design, you can also experiment with a variety of materials that are available. Test out which material would be the best for your product needs by using rapid prototyping.
It’s Money Saving:
Rapid prototyping techniques usually ensure minimal to no material wastage. This saves costs. The rapid prototyping machines are also cheaper to set up and run, making them even more pocket-friendly. This gives you more room to experiment with and alter your designs as a project manager.
It Reduces Risk:
Catching a design defect in the prototyping stage can save you investment money, reducing your risk. With rapid prototyping, you can create multiple prototypes and test them out to perfect your final product.
Rapid Prototype Your Design:
If your product is in the development stage, get your prototype customized 3D printed using Connekt, LLC’s rapid prototyping services. They’ve got a robust team of mechanical design engineers, ready to provide you the best quality services.
The team at Connekt, LLC works with you to perfect your product from the design phase to the product delivery. They are experts in 3D printing, injection molding, and FEA analysis.