Understanding 3D Printing & Rapid Prototyping

Over the past years, there’s no denying that technological advancements have greatly improved many operations in various industries, especially the manufacturing field. As such, engineers, designers, manufacturers, and suppliers can now take advantage of highly efficient processes, streamlined applications, increased production, and quality outputs. This is where additive manufacturing comes into the picture.

Whether producing consumer products, creating architectural modules, or developing prosthetics, additive manufacturing is highly helpful and beneficial. However, when it comes to this, there has been some confusion over the differences between 3D Quick Printing and rapid prototyping. 

With that, we will tackle more about this topic in the sections below:

Understanding additive manufacturing in general

Before diving into 3D printing and rapid prototyping as technologies, you must first understand what additive manufacturing is. Ever since its inception, the additive manufacturing process has been instrumental in product creation and development to make it cost-effective, cost-efficient, and innovative, producing and building products rather quickly and effectively.

As the name suggests, it refers to the technology used in creating 3D objects by repeatedly adding layers of materials. On the other hand, there’s also what we call subtractive manufacturing, which involves cutting materials of 3D objects through a standard machine process like drilling or milling.

Additive manufacturing is sometimes used interchangeably with 3D printing, though the former is usually used by professionals in the industry, while the latter is often used by the general public such as the media. As for rapid prototyping, it is one of the applications used in this manufacturing process.

3D printing vs rapid prototyping

To clarify their differences even further, let’s define the two terminologies for a better understanding:

  • 3D printing: It is a manufacturing process that turns a digital 3D model into a solid object through material fabrication using printing technologies. In fact, it allows you to produce complex shapes using less material than traditional manufacturing methods.
  • Rapid prototyping: It is an application using additive manufacturing technology. In the manufacturing process, it helps to build a model faster than the normal process.

Three factors in determining major differences

Now, let’s take a look at the differences between 3D printing and rapid prototyping; take note of the following:

  • Material options: While 3D printing is confined to VC and other plastic materials, rapid prototyping has a wide range of material options. But with the advancement in technology, you can only expect more material choices in the future.
  • Accuracy level: Rapid prototyping is said to develop accurate models and better finishes than 3D printing because of more advanced technology. 
  • Printing complexity: 3D printing is simpler and easier to use, but rapid prototyping is a bit complex. This means that while the former requires minimal training, the latter needs to be trained for complex parameters to produce accurate and desirable results.


At this point, you now know how highly beneficial additive manufacturing is in many industries. Also, you now understand the similarities and differences between 3D printing and rapid prototyping. To that end, be sure to consider all the valuable information discussed above for your manufacturing process and printing application, as additive manufacturing can increase your production and yield quality outputs for your business!

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