ABOUT Rapid Prototyping
Technology: Rapid Prototyping Services are processes which create solid models of parts directly from 3D CAD software designs. The materials used are typically thermoplastic resins, photopolymers, or powered metals. These models are created by curing the material one layer at a time while stepping through the design until the finished part is completed. Typical technologies used in rapid prototyping are:3D Printing (3DP), or Binder Jetting Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), or Material Extrusion Stereolithography (SLA), or Vat Polymerization Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM), or Sheet Lamination Direct Metal Deposition, or Directed Energy Deposition Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), or Powder Bed FusionDrop on Demand, or Material Jetting
The term Additive Manufacturing has become a popular synonym for rapid prototyping. The techniques are being used more and more to produce final parts, especially for one-of-a-kind pieces such as dental and surgical implants. Rapid prototyping can be used to make patterns for investment casting, which can also yield metal parts. Progress is being made in the direct additive manufacturing of metal parts for aircraft and the like.
Advantages: Rapid prototyping services can produce models and functional parts very quickly without the cost of tooling, machining, etc. required by traditional prototype making.Can produce parts with complex internal geometriesBetter turn-around time than other prototyping methodsFairly extensive materials choice, especially for plastics
Limtations of Rapid PrototypingStill mostly suited to prototyping rather than production level outputsFunctional metal parts are feasible though perhaps not as economical as other traditional manufacturing methods
Applications: Rapid prototyping is still an ideal way of producing life sized and scaled realistic models of potential products/designs.Architectural modelsInvestment casting patternsMedical implantsJewelryWorking mechanical modelsComplex geometries