Rapid Prototyping and Its Importance in Precision Manufacturing

By February 5, 2018Articles

Rapid Prototyping and Its Advantages in Product Development and Manufacturing

By definition, rapid prototyping is the production of a scale model (prototype) of a physical part or product using multi-dimensional computer-aided design (CAD) software. The actual construction of that part or product is done via 3D-printing or additive layer manufacturing technology. And, in fact, the terms three-dimensional printing or additive manufacturing are often used interchangeably to describe the process of rapid prototyping.

Very often, when product designers want to demonstrate how new products will look, feel, and perform, they do so through digital models; while this is the more inexpensive method, it may not be conducive to gaining approval for the design from management and/or clients. Because these groups often want to see new products in physical rather than virtual form.

But building a physical model can be time-consuming, not to mention expensive. Especially if it is found after testing that the prototype needs to be altered before going to production.  And this is where rapid prototyping can offer a number of significant advantages, including:

  • Faster and more cost-effective than constructing a full-scale model
  • Eliminates the cost and time need to develop special molds and tools
  • Minimizes waste; uses only the material needed to build the prototype
  • Can make parts of miniscule size and/or that have complex geometries
  • Provides a realistic three-dimensional design vs a computer screen image
  • Permits the identification of any design flaws prior to any mass production
  • Design changes can be done without the need to modify the entire process
  • Easier testing – properties of the material closely resemble the final product
  • Changes can be made immediately, eliminating the need to wait for feedback

There are several processes that can be used for rapid prototyping; the most common are:

  • Stereolithography (SLA)
  • Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
  • Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)
  • Selective Laser Melting (SLM)
  • Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM)
  • Multi Jet Modelling (MJM)
  • Digital Light Processing (DLP)

Determining which of the above types of procedures to use will be based on such factors as:

  • Production volume
  • Speed of production
  • Financial considerations
  • Geometry of the part/product
  • Intended use of the part/product

However, in order to appropriately align these production-related and cost-related factors to the right process among the various types of rapid prototyping, manufacturers and/or their designers may find it beneficial to consult with the experts from Noble Precision.  The team at Noble Precision has extensive experience in rapid prototyping, from very intricate parts to larger-scale models, and thus can ensure that their outputs from this methodology will meet the specifications, expectations, and business needs of their clients. 

Rapid Prototyping Service to Support Your Product and Parts Development Needs

Prototype development, while an important aspect to determining the ultimate viability of a part or product, may not be a practical option for manufacturers from a cost and operational perspective.  Fortunately, Noble Precision has made a significant investment in state-of-the-art technology, including the latest in CAD/CAM software, to alleviate any such concerns for their clients and allow them to partner with Noble Precision’s team of experts to adequately address these unique, single-unit production needs.

For additional information on the prototyping services provided by Noble Precision, including rapid prototyping solutions for many additive manufacturing applications.

Rapid prototyping is an excellent alternative to the traditional approach of creating full-scale prototypes; it allows the designers and the end-users to validate the dimensions, assembly, and functionality of new part or product without the need for special tools or experienced technical support, with the additional advantages of cost-efficiency and time-efficiency.

Call the experienced specialists at Noble Precision today at 647-499-7569 or contact us to request a complimentary consultation on the advantages offered by our state-of-the-art technology and rapid prototyping service relative to your product/parts development needs.