Since its conception in the 1980s, Rapid Prototyping has become an essential process for manufacturers to add value to the product development cycle, by allowing products to be developed, tested and manufactured without committing to production tooling and the financial implication that brings.Surely, today functional prototype cannot be neglected.
Typically speaking, Rapid Prototype(RP) is a group of techniques used to fabricate a model quicker than the normal prototyping process.It enables engineers to shorten a design and development cycle. It has also been referred to a solid free-form manufacturing, layered manufacturing, and computer automated manufacturing.
Rapid prototyping technology is classified as an additive process flеxibilitу for the dеѕign аnd manufacturing stages. It givеѕ оrgаniѕаtiоnѕ the ability to create solid physical objects by using freeform methods.Evaluation models and prototypes can be created quickly without mass-production commitment
Design development times have been significantly reduced thanks to the ability to quickly edit and adopt a digital design, before generating a development model via 3D printing. This increased flexibility has also meant that new avenues and design opportunities can be explored – resulting in a better concept.
Design improvement and testing
Rapid prototyping gives designers an opportunity to make improvements very early in the design stage. Designers can have a visual and physical understanding of the item earlier, test it at the design stage and make improvements accordingly.Product quality tends to be better as a result.
Rapid prototyping can reduce uncertainties about product designs, as designers can access more information about the product’s design and features at the prototyping
stage.With accurate prototypes at hand, designers have more to work with when focusing on improving the product and design
Reduced time to market
Rapid prototyping accelerates the rate of product development, allowing manufacturers to bring about a quicker return on investment by commencing production tooling at an earlier stage. By making use of additive manufacturing, you can quickly build accurate, function and working prototypes which can be sooner brought to market. Rapid Prototyping is also beneficial for companies waiting to undertake product testing and gain valuable user feedback, which can lead to improvements in design and ultimately, an improved product.
Rapid prototyping processes like additive manufacturing allow for greater customization at much lower volumes than regular manufacturing techniques. Developing existing products and creating completely new ones can be achieved without further tooling costs or additional machinery. Designers also have the significantly greater freedom to create novel shapes and structures of almost limitless complexity, unshackled by the limitations, time and cost of traditional manufacturing processes.
Advance in software allows for complex digital analysis of stresses and loads within components.This data enables the non-load bearing material to be removed from the product, thus reducing weight without compromising internal structure and strength. Additive manufacturing is well suited to creating lattice structures that provide essential support, reducing the overall weight of the product and the amount of material required. In Additive Manufacturing, the material is only added where needed, so it is an extremely efficient process. Unlike more traditional machining processes which are subtractive, additive manufacturing can lead to significant cost savings by minimizing waste, especially when expensive materials are used.
Post Production Evaluation
Rapid Prototyping processes have a short tooling lifespan; some do not require tooling at all. This allows for ongoing changes and alterations to be made to the design without further cost of tool modifications. Manufacturers can release products in controlled batches for trial, making improvements to the design based on initial feedback.
With continual investment in people, skills and technology businesses have developed impressive production capabilities and a flexible approach to completing projects across a wide range of sectors including Automotive, oil & Gas, Aerospace, Medical, and Defence.
These benefits are not limited to any one sector, with Rapid prototyping processes used in various industries from the Automotive and Medical sectors to Energy and Defence, adopted throughout the entirety of a product’s development cycle from the initial concept evaluation right through to post-production analysis.