Rapid prototyping is the fast fabrication of physical objects using CAD during the design phase of the product life cycle. It’s applicable throughout your design process, from conceptualization to final testing. Effective, fast prototyping helps product designers and engineers avoid design flaws and potential issues. A tangible version of their design allows them to properly analyze and study its features and verify its aesthetics and function, allowing for necessary improvements to enhance the quality while accelerating the time to market.
Today, you’ll find many rapid prototyping technologies from reputable prototype manufacturing companies in China. Here are some of them:
Fused deposition modeling (FDM)
FDM is among the versatile additive manufacturing or 3D printing technologies that builds parts by extruding a plastic filament through a nozzle, then laying it down on a build chamber one layer at a time. This way, it can create parts with complex geometries using a wide range of materials, such as ABS, nylon, Ultem, and PC. Some of its applications include building functional bits, housings, and enclosures.
Although it’s ideal for fast prototyping, the process has restrictions that will require support material for any overhanging features. The supports are eliminated post-process. The 3D printing technology is also versatile for low-volume production.
SLA 3D printing or stereolithography builds aesthetic models from the photocurable resin. A high-powered UV laser cures the resin one layer at a time. Some of its perks include a good surface finish and great accuracy in the CAD. Similar to FDM, SLA requires support structures, which will be removed after printing.
Selective laser sintering
SLS 3D printing enables fast prototyping using durable nylon (PA12). It is used extensively to build functional and aesthetic prototypes with complex features and overhangs without needing support structures. The process is versatile for low-volume production, too.
Build your prototypes fast
Choosing an ideal fast prototyping method can be overwhelming, especially considering your timeline, budget, and other factors. However, partnering with a reputable, experienced rapid prototyping expert can help you make informed choices. They can review your project and make suggestions that could save you time and money.