The process of involving specialized and modern computer-oriented techniques for the production of high-quality models of the 3D design idea. Generally, the prototype is a model or a working model of a product which is developed to test and as a model with which a final has to be replicated or developed. It is required for designed improvement and acts as a stepping stone for the final production of the product. The prototyping results in the conversion of concept to a market product rapidly and inexpensively. CAD model is used to design a three-dimensional design of a prototype. It is also known as 3D printing, additive manufacturing, and freeform fabrication.
Why use rapid prototyping?
Introduced in 1987, rapid prototyping services is an additive process which is a kind of process which builds an object by joining layers of the raw materials. The materials used are photopolymers, thermoplastics, metal powders, and ceramic powders. An ultraviolet beam is used which solidifies the surface areas onto which they are focussed. The process starts when the vat is filled with the photopolymer liquid. The three dimensional CAD solid model file is loaded on the system. The control unit functions and slices the model and produces a series of cross sections. The new product which has to be launched in the market needs a shortened design process and prototype is indispensable. Conventional prototyping is time taking and there are multiple reasons which support the use of rapid prototyping. Some of these reasons are as follows:
- Effective communication increases because of rapid prototyping services
- The time of development of products is reduced
- The occurrence of costly mistakes is reduced
- It minimizes sustaining engineering changes
- It extends product life and improved features are added
- The redundancy is eliminated in the design construction
- It decreases development time as it allows corrections to be made in the early stages of developing a product
The basic methodology behind rapid prototyping
There are many technologies for rapid prototyping namely Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and fused deposition modeling (FDM). As modern computerized techniques are involved in prototyping, therefore, these following steps can summarize the methodology of rapid prototyping:
- A Computer Assisted Design or CAD model is constructed and is converted to a Standard Tessellation Language or STL format.
- The machine for rapid prototyping processes the .STL file by creating layers of the model
- When the first layer of the physical model is created. It is then lowered by the thickness of the next layer and then the process is repeated until the model is completed
- Any support or model is removed and the surface is finished and cleaned
Advantages of rapid prototyping
Following are some of the advantages of using rapid prototyping techniques in designing and manufacturing products:
- It is a rapid and inexpensive method of prototyping design ideas
- It gives multiple designs of iterations
- It provides a physical validation of design
- It reduces product development time
Rapid prototyping has found its application into a variety of fields and now it is possible to witness the final product in the early stages of processing any new product before launching into the market.