The rapid prototyping concept is not new to engineers. However, it’s been a game-changer for many inventors and innovators, who need to get a working model of their new product quickly so they can show it to buyers, prospective investors, and partners. The prototypes must be inexpensive, easy to produce, and able to make fairly fast iterations.
Consumable fused deposition modelling (FDM) is one of the most popular rapid prototyping methods, and this 3D printing process builds the part by layer, using the same material raw material that’s used in the final part being produced. Other popular 3D printing processes are selective laser sintering (SLS), stereolithography (SLA), and powder bed fusion (PBF).
All of these methods are used to build prototypes for a variety of applications, from automotive and aerospace to education, aerospace, and healthcare products.
Different Rapid Prototyping Solutions You Should Know
1. CNC Machining
CNC machining, also known as computer numerical control, is a tool and process that uses electronic instructions linked to a computer program to control a cutting tool to automatically make and cut products out of a variety of materials.
The process can be done in the same place and can replicate designs to build multiple of the same product or parts. CNC machining is used for metal and non-metal parts that are produced using computer programming, which makes it faster and more accurate than traditional machining.
2. Polyurethane Vacuum Casting or VC
Vacuum casting is similar to rapid tooling, but it allows for more complex parts that are durable and reusable. The process involves creating a mould, filling it with liquid polyurethane, and then using hydraulic pressure to create a negative of the final part. The mould is removed and the liquid polyurethane is left to harden.
In order to create parts, the mould is filled with liquid polyurethane, which is then vacuumed out, leaving the negative space in the mould. The negative space is then filled with liquid polyurethane, which hardens to create a positive mould. The process is repeated to create the final part that is used for production.
3. Stereolithography or SLA
SLA is a 3D printing process that uses a laser to solidify liquid resin to create a resin pattern. SLA is a layer-by-layer printing process, which means that you can build a product of any shape or dimension. This rapid prototyping method is used for plastic parts that are designed by the engineer and created by a machine.
4. Fused Deposition Modeling or FDM
FDM is a 3D printing process that’s used to build plastic prototypes. This additive process is a layer-by-layer printing process that builds a product in layers by depositing plastic material, layer-by-layer. While it can be used to print with a variety of materials, FDM is typically used with ABS or PLA thermoplastics.
5. Powder Bed Fusion or PBF
Powder bed fusion is a 3D printing process that uses a laser to solidify powder to build objects layer-by-layer. PBF is used for metal parts that are designed by engineers and produced by machines.
The Bottom Line: The Rise of Rapid Prototyping Solutions for Different Industries
Rapid prototyping solutions are essential for companies that need to create parts quickly and economically. Whether you need to prototype a part for a car, a machine, a circuit, or a piece of equipment, these printing methods can help your business get the job done.
Why Choose Us?
If you are looking for 3D printing services in Coventry, England, we’re the ones to call to get the job done! So long as you send us your .stl files, we can help bring your vision to life as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Our client-centric solutions ensure every stage of the development cycle meets your needs, allowing you to boost your production and gain a competitive edge all within your budget. Whether it’s 3D printing for architects or hobbyists, get in touch with us!