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Last edited 23 Apr 2021
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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.
- 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 is 'eco-friendly' as it generates less waste.
See also additive manufacturing.
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