Why Rapid Prototyping Technology is Booming


Posted on: June 27, 2018, | By Vivi, WayKen Project Manager

Rapid prototyping is a designing process where engineers develop geometric models. For the sole purpose of testing the various aspect of the product. For example, the functions, the features, and the performance. Hence, experts believe this process reduces wastage, and its possible to rectify any defects in the design. Then, why does the Rapid Prototyping Technology boom?

A Brief Introduction of History of Rapid  Prototyping

Rapid prototyping technology (RPT) was first used in the United States. In 1987, 3D SYSTEM introduced commercial rapid prototyping equipment for the first time. PRATT & WHITNEY AND EASTMAN KODAK, are the marks of the beginning of rapid prototyping technology in an industrial application in the 1990s. The rapid prototyping technology is expanding fast in its application scope, used by companies including Boeing of the US, and GM, AUDI, BMW in Germany, and many other well-known international companies. In 1992, rapid prototyping equipment was already used in over 500 projects among 17 countries.

Rapid Prototyping in China

In China, rapid prototyping technology started to develop in the early 1990s, mainly with Xi’an Jiaotong University, Tsinghua University, Huazhong University of Science and Technology and Beijing Longyuan AFS Co., Ltd, which has carried on the light curing, fused deposition modeling, hierarchical entities manufacturing and district laser sintering molding technology and equipment research. The corresponding rapid prototyping equipment has been commercialized at present.

The core competitiveness of the rapid prototyping technology is that it brings down the manufacturing cost and market response time, and usually manufacturers choose it for this consideration. The rapidly developed and popularized rapid prototyping technology, especially in beauty, has been widely used in many fields such as automobile, motorcycle, aviation, military and medical.

How to Make a Prototype

Rapid Prototyping technology has reduced the many uncertainties concerning how well a product suits the user. The technique has created space for product developers to assess, get data and make an informed decision based on the feedback from the initial prototype user.

Below are the benefits of making a prototype in the rapid manufacturing process:

Early Detection of Defects and Design Flaws

Early detection of errors related to the prototype can be rectified hence limiting wastage and mass production of defective items.

For Fast Estimation of Cost, Time and Material Requirements

Designing models aides, the manufacturer in determining the actual value of production. The amount of material required, and it also gives the expected turnaround time, and personnel needed. Therefore, the manufacturer gets data to create a budget and determine the final cost of productions.

rapid prototyping-draft with final prototype

To Gather Accurate Information

Inadequate supplies only led to increased project cost from much rework. However, developing a functional prototype helps in solidifying the requirements needed for the final model.

To Technically Understand Weakness in Production

Developing a working prototype enhances your understanding of both foreseen and unforeseen technical problems of designing. Then, you can address the challenges by applying a well-designed system for the final product.

To Determine the Machinery Needed

Manufacturers are often in a dilemma with rapid machining. Issues like not knowing if the existing machinery can handle the production or the machinery need modifications or you need to purchase new ones. The perfect way to answer the question is by creating a prototype to help determine what you need in terms of mechanism.

Testing the Wellness and Durability of the Product

Making a prototype makes it easier to determine if the product is a perfect fit; This saves the Manufacture time, money, and material wasted when reworking. It also helps in assessing the durability of the material used and its capability to withstand wear and tear.

To Seek Funds

A prototype can show the practicability of your project. By developing one, you rise the confidence of investors and increase the chances of getting funds for your idea.

Receive Feedback from End-Users

Receiving feedback from clients, distributors, and customers. Helps in identifying the flaws in the functions or design; This information is critical to designers when correcting the errors in the design. 

5 Rapid Prototyping Methods

With the development of new material, especially high-performance materials, and application of rapid prototyping, more and more advanced rapid prototyping technologies are produced at present. Below are a few typical ones.

SLA-SLS-rapid prototyping-image1

 1. Stereo Lithography Apparatus (SLA)

Selective liquid photosensitive resin curing is a kind of rapid prototyping technology first appearing in machine prototyping, which is featured with a full tank of liquid photosensitive resin, the material for SLA rapid prototyping. Under UV irradiation at the beginning, the resin liquid quickly cures. At the height of the liquid level, it can lift workbench to the next section thickness. The resin focuses after computer controlled UV laser beam scanning. With the request of the cross section contour scanning along the liquid surface, the scanned area is cured and obtain the expected contour. Then, the workbench drops at a layer height, and another layer of liquid resin covers it. In the second scan curing, the new solidified layer is firmly bonded to the previous layer. This process is repeated until the whole product is formed.

2. Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM)

This method is based on a 3d model of each section contour line and is controlled by computer, with the CO2 laser beam scanning the lightweight materials (such as floor glue volume form paper) for cutting layer outline. Step by step, layers are bonded together and eventually form a three-dimensional product.

3. Selected Laser Sintering (SLS)

SLS uses CO2 laser and powder materials (such as plastic powder, ceramic and a binder mixed powder metal powder mixed with binder) to mold. It spreads a layer of powder materials in the workbench first, and then, under the process of a computer-controlled laser beam with the cross section contour information, the part in powder is sintered and the workbench drops down at a layer height. Afterward, a new layer of liquid resin covers the surface of the former solidified one. With all these steps repeated, ultimately, a three-dimensional product is formed.


4. Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

Controlled by computer, rapid molding machine nozzle is heated according to the information of cross-section contour, as x-y plane moving toward z-axis direction. Silk material (such as a plastic wire) for silk machine is sent to the nozzle, and gets heated to melt in the tank, then selectively coated on the workbench and rapid cooling after the formation of cross section contour. After the completion of a layer molding, workbench drops at the height of a layer, and the next layer of coating begins. With circles in this way, ultimately a three-dimensional product is formed.

 5. Three-Dimensional Printing (TDP)

TDP works with a rapid molding machine nozzle, and is controlled by computer according to the cross section contour information. In the layers of powder materials prepared, adhesive is selectively sprayed and forms section contour. After completion of a layer of molding, workbench drops at the height of a section layer, and then the next layer of adhesive moves on. With these processes cycled, ultimately a 3D product is produced.

Rapid Prototyping Process

Rapid prototyping is a manufacturing technology where the production process is quick. One method is 3D printing sounds like new technology. However, it has been around for 30 years plus.

The technology has advanced to using software’s and processes that are automated. It uses CAD, a process that has brought positive impacts on the 3D printing market. Customers can receive molded parts within 15 days or depend on the intricacy of the design.

Introducing the three-dimensional, a process for adding material was a breakthrough in rapid prototyping. However, the impact of the 3D printing was felt when computer-assisted technology such as CAD, CAM, and CAE come in use.

Unlike, the injection molding and CNC machining, rapid prototyping methods have limits. It is also worthy to note that 3D printing, stereo-lithography, and laser sintering face limitation because of layered the materials.

Rapid prototyping China produces products from hard tools in the shortest time. It presents clients with quality models at a lower price. It gets dimensions, form, and other features by detecting and touching.

The Development of Rapid Prototyping

Traditional manufacturing methods were costly to set up. For example, processes like injection molding or CNC prototyping brought about low-volume and were expensive ways to produce custom prototypes.

The rapid prototyping technique has turned ideas to a realistic concept. The advances of the technology to creating high-fidelity models that function like the finished product. Has been made by following a series of validation stages geared towards mass production.

Creating a prototype is now a faster process than before. Using CAD data makes the execution quickly based on frequent testing results and real feedback; this has given the designers and engineers easy time in actualizing their ideas.

prototype draft drawing data

Rapid Prototyping technology is the world’s advanced manufacturing technology and new product development method in the 1990s. In industrialized countries, it is an important strategy for companies to adopt Rapid Prototyping technology to ensure the development cycle and improve the design quality in the development of new products. At present, the market competition is getting more intense and the product replacement is accelerating.

To maintain the competitiveness of our products in domestic and foreign markets, we urgently need to adopt advanced innovative methods while increasing investment in new product development and enhancing our awareness of innovation. Rapid Prototyping technology enables rapid manufacturing of new product samples of any complex shape without the need for any tools, dies and tooling fixtures.

With Rapid Prototyping technology, rapidly creating models or samples can be directly used in the design of new product appearance, functional verification and so on. It is very beneficial to optimize the product design, thus greatly enhancing the success rate of new product development, improving the market competitiveness of products, shortening the development cycle, and reducing the development cost with enterprise application of Rapid Prototyping technology to carry out product innovation activities.

Rapid Prototyping technology has been applied in many fields. Its application scope is mainly in design inspection, market prediction, engineering testing (stress analysis, air duct, etc.), assembly testing, mold manufacturing, medicine, aesthetics and so on. Rapid Prototyping technology is used mostly in the manufacturing industry (up to 67%), indicating that Rapid Prototyping technology has a huge effect on improving product design and manufacturing levels.

Why you Need Rapid Prototyping

Rapid prototyping has gained recognition among engineering designers. It’s an accurate means for the manufacturer to actualize their final product. Besides, rapid prototyping metal has advanced considerably to be a go-solution to a range of industries. It guarantees the realization of any design concepts from a variety of metals.

Here are the reasons you need rapid prototyping:

Efficient Concept Realization

Before, the designer had to go back to the beginning or start from scratch when making significant changes to the design. However, when using rapid prototyping, issues are resolved in the process saving time and resources.

Communicate Ideas

To fully convince all stakeholders and ensure it satisfies them. You need a physical model to convey your ideas more clearly compared to using the visual design on-screen presentation. It also provides a channel for actionable feedback that helps in refining or improving the design.

It Saves Cost and Time

One of the main reason you need rapid prototyping is the capability of developing exact products as per the requirements. To alter or change the design requires no special tools. All you need is a CAD model, and the whole process remains the same.

Reduces Design Errors

With additive manufacturing, it is easy to identify faults in the design before embarking on mass production.

The Future Developing Direction for Rapid Prototyping

Development of Rapid Prototyping-1

There are still many shortcomings in the rapid forming technology. The next research and development work will mainly focus on the following aspects:

  • Improve the reliability and productivity of the rapid forming system and the ability to make large parts, especially the precision of the rapid forming system;
  • Develop economical rapid prototyping system;
  • Improve and innovate rapid prototyping methods and processes;
  • Develop fast forming materials with good performance;
  • Develop high-performance software for rapid prototyping.

As a rapid prototyping supplier in China, WayKen is always on the urge to keep our skills and knowledge up-to-date, so we could better serve our customers worldwide.

Prototypes provide you with the opportunity to conceptualize a design to the look and feel of your customers. The process allows you to conduct testing on the product, on the production method, and have the end-user experience. The feedback from users allows you to gather enough information, re-create and lunch a marketable product.

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