Concept Models – the Most Basic Step from Concept to Prototype


Posted on:  Aug 7, 2018, | By Judy, WayKen Project Manager

What Is Concept Model?

The conceptual model is a valuable vehicle for providing ideas to users. A physical concept prototype generated by rapid prototyping can provide effective information about design manufacturability and can be refined to the specific requirements of the customers, so conceptual modeling helps to reduce production time in the early stages of the design process. The products involved are able to meet deadlines, develop faster and put them into use as quickly as possible.

Since all prototypes are produced through rapid prototyping technologies, there is no need to develop expensive tools to design prototypes. This greatly reduces production costs and allows for quick and easy integration of designs. It provides a very low-risk way to discover design flaws and make modifications, and to provide accurate models that can be used in production tools.

Conceptual models play an important role throughout the system development life cycle. Figure 1–1 below depicts the role of the conceptual model in a typical system development scenario. Obviously, if the conceptual model is not fully developed, the execution of the underlying system attributes may not be implemented correctly, leaving the problem in the future, and these failures do occur in the industry. The importance of conceptual models is obvious when such systemic failures are mitigated through system development and adherence to proven development techniques.


How to Implement a Conceptual Model?

(1) SLA(Stereolithogrphy Apparatus)

SLA is based on the principle of photopolymerization of liquid photosensitive resin. The liquid material can rapidly undergo photopolymerization under the irradiation of ultraviolet light of a certain wavelength and intensity. The molecular weight increases sharply and the material changes from liquid to solid.

Figure 2-1 shows the working principle of the SLA. The liquid tank is filled with liquid photopolymer resin. Under the action of the deflection mirror, the laser beam can scan on the liquid surface. The scanning track and the presence or absence of light are controlled by the computer. Where the light spot is reached, the liquid is solidified. At the beginning of the forming time, the working platform is at a certain depth below the liquid level, and the focused spot is scanned point by point on the liquid surface according to the instruction of the computer, which is solidified point by point. When a layer of scanning is completed, the unirradiated area is still a liquid resin. Then the lifting platform drives the platform down to a height, and the formed layer is covered with a layer of resin. The scraper scrapes the liquid surface of the resin with higher viscosity, and then scans the next layer, and the newly cured layer is firm. The ground is glued to the previous layer, so repeating until the entire part is manufactured, and a three-dimensional solid model is obtained.


2-1                                                                             2-2

(2) SLS (Selective Laser Sintering)

SLS was developed in 1989 by C.R. Dechard of the University of Texas at Austin. The SLS process is formed from a powdered material. The material powder spread flat on the upper surface of the formed part. The high-strength CO2 laser is used to scan the cross-section of the part on the freshly laid layer, and the material powder is sintered together under high-intensity laser irradiation to obtain. The section of the new zero sintered part is connected to the formed part below. After a section of the section is sintered, a new layer of powder material is applied, and the lower section is selectively sintered, as shown in Figure 2-2. After the sintering is completed, the excess powder is removed, and then polished, dried, etc.

SLS process is characterized by a wide range of materials, not only for the manufacture of plastic parts, but also for the manufacture of ceramic, wax and other materials, in particular for the production of metal parts. SLS process does not require support because no sintered powder acts as a support.

(3) CNC machining

CNC represents computer numerical control and has been around since the early 1970s. Prior to this, it was called NC for digital control. Although most people have never heard of this word, if you are in the manufacturing industry, you are likely to deal with CNC for a long time.

As you may have guessed, all the operations that the operator needs to perform on a conventional machine can be programmed with a CNC machine. Once the CNC code is set up and running, a CNC machine is quite simple to keep running. In fact, many CNC machines can run unattended throughout the machining cycle, allowing the operator to perform other tasks. This provides CNC users with several attendant benefits, including reduced operator fatigue, reduced errors caused by human error, and consistent and predictable machining times for each workpiece.

Since the machine will run under program control, the level of skill required by CNC operators (related to basic machining practices) is reduced compared to mechanics who use traditional machine tools to produce workpieces.  Meanwhile, CNC machine are flexible. Since these machines are run from a program, running different artifacts is almost as simple as loading a different program. Once the program has been verified and executed by a production run, it can easily call the next run. This brings great benefits to fast conversions.

CNC technology is superior to SLA and SLS in terms of accuracy. Today’s CNC machines have almost unbelievable accuracy and repeatability specifications. This means that once the program is validated, two, ten or one thousand identical artifacts can be easily and accurately generated.

Purpose of Concept Models

Use the conceptual model as the first step in the process of creating a physical product. They are early design stage research models that can be used to complete assembly, improve design, sample display, and implement functions.   WayKen engineers build concept models with a range of materials, technologies, and finishes to produce realistic finishes to confidently see how the end product will look. Colors and textures can be augmented with anodising, plating, sand blasting and lots more. Some product concept models use CNC machining, rapid prototyping and other processes to achieve functional assembly requirements. Our engineers are good at working with you to transform your early CAD files into conceptual models that elegantly convey your design intent to your audience.

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