In today’s digital era, where time is a crucial commodity, and there is always a better and faster way to do anything, the popularity of rapid prototyping is growing.
Rapid prototyping is creating parts of a product using various engineering techniques in less time. Although selecting the proper rapid prototype process is a much more complex decision, it promises a time-efficient solution.
Here is how to choose a rapid prototype process and what factors should affect this decision.
What is rapid prototyping?
Rapid prototyping is creating the physical part of a product more time-efficiently to check its usability and function. It is an integral part of product engineering and requires the right process selection to eliminate mistakes.
It uses many techniques to create solid parts from CAD model data quickly. This process is used throughout the product development cycle for any components or sub-components. It is repeated often to get the right part for a product.
Not to be confused with 3D printing, rapid prototyping is a vast concept of creating parts of a product using different technologies.
How does rapid prototyping work?
There are several types of rapid prototyping technologies. The most common one is additive rapid prototyping.
In rapid prototyping, different technologies are used to create a prototype for evaluation. It can involve the use of an industrial 3D printer or manufacturing machine.
Different types of rapid prototyping processes
Rapid prototyping can be done in many ways, and choosing the right process depends on many factors. There are many kinds of rapid prototyping processes, and each one does the job well, but the suitability depends on the prototype that needs to be created.
For a better perspective, here are different types of rapid prototyping processes.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
It is an additive manufacturing technique used for prototyping metal and plastic. SLS creates a high-power laser prototype to heat and sinter the powdered material.
It is also a low-cost process that requires less time and minimal labor.
Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)
This one is a much quicker, cheaper, and easier process. It is perfect for product development and can be found in many nonindustrial desktop 3D printers.
FDM uses thermoplastic filaments to create physical objects from scratch. The filament is melted inside a printing nozzle barrel which moves back and forth to create layers of liquid plastic using a computer deposition program.
Selective Laser Melting (SLM) or Powder Bed Fusion (PBF)
One of the most popular additive manufacturing techniques, Selective Laser Melting, also known as Powder Bed Fusion, is an affordable method for creating a detailed physical product. It uses an electron beam or high-powder laser to develop prototypes by melting layer-by-layer and fusing material powder. The most common material used in this process is aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, and copper.
Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM) or Sheet Lamination
This one is one of the most inexpensive and easy processes. It doesn’t require any specially controlled conditions as well. This rapid prototyping process uses metal, plastic, and ceramic materials to assemble parts or products layer by layer. Each layer is bonded together using glue. However, it is a labor-intensive process, which takes more time, as ceramic parts need to be decubed.
Now that you know the different types of processes and approaches, the rapid prototype process selection will be much easier. You need to consider each type and the key factors to choose the right one.