Last edited 09 Jan 2018

Rapid prototyping

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A recent technology, since the 1980s this has been an important asset for countless industries and projects that need an extra level of rendering to enhance work done.

An additive process – rapid prototyping uses materials such as adhesives and photopolymers – by joining particles and layers of raw materials together to create the desired shape. It differs from more traditional processes, which typically compress and subtract rather than add.

First, a virtual 3D model must be created using CAD software. This digital rendering is a simulation of the final product. The design is then converted so that the prototype can be printed as efficiently and accurately as possible – allowing the printer to interpret the design in a language it understands. Checks are needed throughout the process to ensure no mistakes are made during printing.

There are a number of benefits of rapid prototyping:

  • Short turnarounds.
  • Accuracy ensured before the final product is constructed.
  • Cost-efficient.
  • High-quality product.
  • It can produce small parts and cavities.
  • It allows issues to be corrected at the beginning of the process rather than carrying them into the final product.
  • It 'eco-friendly' as generates less waste.

See also additive manufacturing.

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