The product development landscape has evolved tremendously over the last 20 years.
Product designs have become much more complex in both their shape and functionality, while the need of reducing time-to-market has increased
The evolution of CAD Solid Modeling and computer technologies have brought forth a new way to produce prototypes know as Rapid Prototyping (RP).
Where it once took many weeks and lots of money to produce a prototype of a design, with RP it is now commonplace to produce the same prototype in a matter of hours for a fraction of the cost.
This evolution of RP has afforded companies the ability to verify and change designs more often while spending less time and money doing so. The end result is a product that:
- Works the first time
- Costs less to design and manufacture
- Takes less time to design and manufacture
- Meets customer demands
- Gets to the market faster
How It Works
There are a number RP technologies on the market, all work under the same fundamental principals.
- Solid Modeled CAD data, in a specific file format (STL), is processed and oriented in an optimal build position.
- The data is then sent to the RP machine where it is numerically sliced into thin layers.
- The RP machine then fabricates each 2-dimensional cross section and bonds it to the previous layer. A complete prototype is therefore built by stacking layer upon layer until the prototype is completed.
Uses for RP Models
Models produced by Rapid Prototyping can go far beyond engineering form, fit and functional models.
Today, RP models can be used as:
- Patterns for other tooling and manufacturing process.
- Focus group models for sales analysis
- Marketing models to create literature and ad campaigns,
- Quoting Models – Sent to the manufacturer in addition to CAD data to help reduce tooling costs