Rapid prototyping is a product development method that uses manufacturing technologies to quickly produce multiple iterations of a component for testing and evaluation. Rapid prototyping has been utilized by many companies and has allowed innovators to push the envelope of what’s possible in the world of technology. In fact, the method has evolved so much that different types of rapid prototyping techniques are available today, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
Importance of Prototyping
A prototype is a preliminary model of something. It is a rough preliminary version for which you do not want to spend a lot of time or money but rather get feedback from other people on what you should improve before going on to create your final product. It has been used in the engineering and manufacturing industries to ensure that everything will be in its right place during final assembly. In software development, prototypes are employed as well to see if user flow and work processes will work correctly.
Rapid prototyping is used in so many industries because it can save time and money and provide a better end product. Because it is able to be used in so many different applications, rapid prototyping will continue to grow in popularity and acceptance. This means that more businesses will need to begin using rapid prototyping or find ways to integrate rapid prototyping into their business model.
In traditional development, prototypes are made with computer-assisted design (CAD) tools. This method is suitable for mass production of many similar products, such as phones or chairs. It’s an iterative process in which parts are redesigned, manufactured, and tested until a finished product is achieved.
However, prototypes that are required for testing only one or two products are better made with rapid prototyping. With a rapid prototyping machine, you can use additive manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing to rapidly produce parts in three dimensions (3D). You can also use various types of machining to produce components, such as milling or turning.
Alternatively, you can use 3D scanning and 3D printing. This approach is ideal for replicating existing parts or making models examine complex components. You create a scan with laser scanning or photogrammetry and print it with additive manufacturing technology to create a model.
Materials Used in Rapid Prototyping
There are two basic types of rapid prototyping: additive and subtractive. Additive manufacturing, more commonly known as 3D printing, uses a nozzle to spray out layers of material like plastic that, when stacked on top of each other, create a finished product. Subtractive methods like milling use electric or pneumatic tools to cut and shape raw materials into the desired form. Other prototyping technologies include computer numerical control (CNC) mills and lathes for both types of manufacturing.
Another important factor in rapid prototyping is the material choice. For example, in subtractive methods, a woodworker might choose to use balsa wood for a model that will be displayed and not handled often because it’s lighter and easier to work with than basswood or poplar.
Additive manufacturing generally comes in two forms: fused deposition modeling (FDM) and stereolithography (SLA). FDM is what most people commonly refer to as 3D printing. The printer nozzle is attached to a computer-controlled gantry system, which lays down successive layers of melted plastic that harden and fuse into a finished product. SLA uses ultraviolet light to cure liquid photopolymer resin into solid parts.
Benefits of Rapid Prototyping
Once you have created a prototype, it allows you to verify your ideas and concepts quickly. Testing prototypes of your design ensures that it will work before expensive materials are used to make a final product. It can reduce development costs by allowing manufacturers to develop new tools and processes that speed up production. Prototype design can reduce time-to-market by providing working samples for testing or sale before actual full production begins.
Using rapid prototyping can help you save money and cut your development costs. If there are problems with a product during its prototyping phase, it’s much easier to make changes in design or fix any problems before you commit to making a final product.
Rapid prototyping is also often used by companies that want to jump on their competition. It allows businesses to be innovative and creative while keeping costs down. Prototype design can keep you ahead of your competitors by allowing you to get products to market quickly, giving you a head start in selling your product.
If you are looking to create a prototype for your medical device, contact DeviceLab today to get started. We have worked with software, wearable technology, and so much more.