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The future is now—at least when it comes to rapid prototyping.

Imagine a world in which the process of creating a prototype starts with the prototype, allowing for greater design flexibility and more opportunities to make changes earlier in the process. Furthermore, try to imagine a prototyping process that allowed you to decrease development time, save money and improve the overall quality of your finished product.

PrototypeThis is what rapid prototyping is all about. It’s a process of fabricating the perfect prototype because it starts with a prototype. Here’s how it works:

The first step in rapid prototyping is to create a computer-assisted design (CAD) model, which meets the specs outlined during the needs assessment. This will become the basis for the fabrication of the physical model.

One of the nice things about using CAD is that it allows engineers and others to see a “3D-like,” virtual model of the part, which allows changes to be made before any investment is put towards materials or machining.

Once the CAD model has been analyzed and approved, a physical prototype is created layer by layer using either a FDM thermoplastics or PolyJet resins. Once each layer of the model is in place and dried, the model is removed from the “printer,” finished and cleaned.

This is where some of the real benefits of rapid prototyping come into play.

Unlike other prototyping processes, which often require that instruction development take place after the analysis and design phase, rapid prototyping allows the development of the prototype instructions to take place after the analysis phase, as well as during the design phase and throughout the entire process.

That’s the beauty of rapid prototyping — it provides either a picture or a physical representation of the model at every step, which allows for continuous evaluation.

If something doesn’t look right, if more features need to be added, or if it turns out the original CAD design wasn’t accurate enough, changes can be easily made. Refining a model no longer requires scrapping the product and starting over.

More information about the rapid prototyping process is available on the Product Development Solutions website. Contact us today for more information about our services.


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