All about Rapid Prototyping

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In the field of designing, Rapid prototyping is a new term and it is also known as the rapid prototype. Most simply, it is the process of creating prototypes quickly to visualize and evaluate its functionalities in an engineering project of product designing.In the context of engineering product design, a preliminary version of a product is called a prototypeand used to evaluate the design, testing technologies, and analyze all its working principles, which gives product details for a real working system. 

An integral part of product design in an engineering project is prototypes and more significantly, in the development process of the product. The rapid prototyping process can be used at any stage of the product development and there are no such issues in repeatingmultiple times along with the innovative product designing process. Although the term prototype is also used in various contexts and some of them include semantics, application development, software programming, and so on. The purpose of all such is the same. 

Is rapid prototyping similar to that of 3D printing? 

The simple and easy answer to this question is “no”. in the present era, the modern development process of the product is commonly used alongside with the terms such as 3D printing and additive manufacturing because 3D printing is the first term that came into existence as a way of making prototypes at a fast pace.However, there are seven types of manufacturing technologies that have moved alongside and made a giant step towards the production of high-quality parts and may not be preferred as the perfect choice for some of the prototypes because of the increased prices.

So, what makes the rapid prototyping services different from that of 3D printing?In simple words, 3D printing is a manufacturing procedure while prototyping is the final result of the end product.In addition to this, 3D printing can be used for the creation of rapid prototyping on its own or by combining with other procedures.

Why Rapid prototyping is significant? 

In this current era of development andthe modern consumer market, every industry needs to come up with something new and innovativeto keep their impact in comparison with its competitors. Since the product development at a fast pace and innovation in technology is helpful to stay ahead of the curve and get success in their relevant market. The rapid prototyping process has become the most significant element in the field of new product development. The following are some of the highlighted objectives that can be accomplished with the rapid prototyping which are given as follows. 

  • New product development at a rapid pace: prototyping plays an integral role in the procedure of creating some successful products because it enhancesthe development process of the new product. 
  • Concept of the validation of the fit, form, and design function at an early stage. 
  • Verification of the final stage product by testing all technical needs and business motives. 
  • It enables functionalities to test the objectives of the added concept as well as finalize the details. 
  • The prototype provides the end-user, client, user participant’sreal experience, and customer to get feedback. 

Techniques used in Rapid prototyping

Various techniques are used in the Rapidprototyping services according to the requirements of the client and the timeline that has been given to the final product.Some techniques of RP are available in the market, which we are going to explore below. These include the following: 

  • Stereo Lithography (SLA)
  • Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
  • Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)
  • Three-dimensional printing (3DP)
  • Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM)

Let us get into some of these processes below and let us know what are the pros and cons of using them as a technique in the RP process. Move forward and begin with the same below. 

Stereo-Lithography (SLA) 

The technique is based on selective polymerization with the help ofultraviolet light. Under this system, a UV beam is used and moved in X and Y directions horizontally to polymerize the resin across the boundary of a particular cross-section of a resin.

Advantages of SLA

  • Accomplishing accuracy in companies
  • Detailed attention and thin walls. 
  • Market shares with industry presence. 
  • Good finish on the surface.

Cons of SLA

  • Needs post-curing
  • Limited materials such as Photopolymers
  • Shrinkage and curl due to phase change. 
  • Difficult to remove the support structure.

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 

Under this process, a high-power beam is used to fuse the powder and unsintered powder acts as a support for overhanging portions if there are any subsequent layers. 

Pros of SLS

  • Porous is the highlighted advantage of this fabricated prototype. 
  • No post-curing is needed.
  • Material variation. 
  • Fast build times. 
  • Mechanical properties of Nylon as well as Polycarbonate parts. 
  • Limited usage of support structures.

Cons of SLS

  • The surface is rough. 
  • Many variables and operationsare complex. 
  • Low mechanical properties as compared to that of the injection molding process.
  • Change of material is difficult in FDM and SLA
  • Finishing needed.

Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) 

The technique of FDM depends on a thinfilament of polymers (thermoplastic) such as investment casting wax and plastic. The material takes is in plastic form, the head is moved in X, and Y horizontally for producing each layer. 

Pros of FDM

  • No post-curing
  • Economical machines
  • Environmental-friendly for offices. 
  • Change is easy over materials. 
  • Material variety. 

Cons of FDM

  • No suitable for details, features, and thin walls. 
  • Weak X-axis design 
  • Surface finish. 
  • Slow on dense parts.
  • Supports are needed on some geometrics. 

These are some of the techniques that are used under the process of Rapid prototyping and these can be opted as per the needs. 

Final Words

In the end, it is all about Rapid prototyping procedure and how it is different from 3D printing that some people think that is the same thing. But the processes are different and 3D printing can be used with RP. But these are not similar at all.