The importance, advantages and types of Rapid Prototyping Manufacturing Techniques
What is Rapid Prototyping manufacturing? Types, Merits, and Application
Rapid prototyping manufacturing is an excellent way to develop models using 3D CAD. In case, you are not familiar with CAD, it stands for computer-aided design. The manufacturers are able to fabricate models, physical parts and assembling seamlessly.
You will use additive manufacturing to complete the creation of the model, parts, and assembly. People generally refer to additive manufacturing like 3D printing. There are different types of a prototype. High-fidelity is when the prototype closely matches to the finished product.
In case the prototype does not match the final product, it is Low fidelity. There are several other types of rapid prototyping. In this article, we will be covering the rapid prototyping in detail. We will discuss its working process, importance, and applications.
Rapid Prototyping: An In-depth Analysis
Rapid prototyping is not limited to a certain type of manufacturing technology. On the contrary, it uses a wide variety of these technologies. However, rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing go hand in hand.
Several RP technologies use a series of other techniques. For instance, they use moulding, casting and high-speed machining. Additive manufacturing is the manufacturer’s top priority. However, there are several other technologies available for the creation of the prototypes.
Below, we have listed the most conventional processes for creating prototypes.
Subtractive: The technology uses turning, grinding and milling to produce the desired shape. It works on a block of material and carves it according to the requirements.
Compressive: This technique uses moulding, casting and compressive sintering. Instead of working on solid blocks and craving into shapes, it uses a different technique. It uses a liquid or semi-solid material. The technique forces the material into the respective shape. It then solidifies it.
Different Types of Rapid Prototyping
Although additive manufacturing is making big, yet you can use several other types. Your deployment of the prototyping machine depends on several factors. For instance, the material you use for prototyping plays a vital role in choosing the right method.
Similarly, you also need to focus on the type of rapid prototyping manufacturing techniques. These 2 along with other factors will help you choose the right type.
Vat Photopolymerization (SLA)
The first successful technique for commercial 3D printing was Vat Photopolymerization. It was efficient and effective. It is still a popular choice among manufacturers. The good news is that it is among the most affordable techniques.
The technique involves computer-controlled Ultra Violet light and photosensitive liquid. The UV light solidifies that liquid layer by layer.
Selective Laser Sintering
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is an effective technique. Manufacturers use it for both plastic and metal prototyping. The technique involves a laser and powdered material, sinter. SLS uses a laser to heat the material.
The prototype builds one layer at one time. However, the technique does not offer satisfying results. The final product’s surface is often rough and it requires additional work. In addition, the prototype lacks strength. It is weak in comparison to the ones you have using SLA.
Fused Deposition Modeling
FDM or more commonly referred, as the Material Jetting is another rapid prototype manufacturing technique. The technique is popular due to its affordability factor. You will find it mostly in non-industrial desktop printers.
The technique uses a spool of thermoplastic filament. Instead of craving the material, it first melts it within the printing nozzle barrel. The liquid plastic is then shaped layer by layer to attain the desired results.
The shaping takes place in accordance with a computer deposition program. Initially, the technique generated unsatisfying results. However, with time, it has become efficient and sophisticated. It no longer produces weak prototypes with poor resolution.
On the contrary, today you see more refined and robust prototypes. Despite offering better results, the process is still inexpensive. It is perhaps one of the most affordable rapid prototyping methods. Thus, it is perfect for product development.
Selective Laser Melting
The informal and more common name of Selective Laser Melting is Powder Bed Fusion. It is an excellent rapid prototyping technique. Manufacturers have been using this technique for a long time now. It is famous because it produces complex and robust prototypes.
It is perfect for making parts that are complex. In addition, these parts need high-strength. SLM is commonly seen in automotive, aerospace, medical industries, and defense. Thus, you can understand the type of services it caters to.
The technique uses a high electron beam or a high-powered laser. The laser or the beam melts a fine metal powder. It then uses the liquid power to build the product or the part layer by layer. You can use a number of materials as primary SLM material. Some of these materials include cobalt chrome alloys and stainless steel.
Likewise, you can also use aluminum and titanium. Aluminum is common mainly because it is affordable and readily available.
Laminated Object Manufacturing
Sheet Lamination is the common name. The process is very common among low-budget manufacturers. Although, it lacks SLS and SLM sophistication, but it does generate adequate results. In addition, it is cheaper than both of these techniques.
The process uses a series of thin laminates. A laser beam cuts these laminates according to specifications. Then, a CAD pattern design comes into action. This machine creates the prototype. The cutting devices form the prototype layer by layer.
The machine places every layer on top of the previous one. It securely bonds every layer to each other.
Digital Lighting Processing
DLP is similar to the SLA technique. However, it uses a more conventional light source. It uses polymerization of resins. The light source cures these resins. Although DLP is cheaper and faster in comparison to SLA, it requires additional support.
The DLP needs post building curing and it requires support structures.
Continuous Liquid Interface Production
CLIP is an alternative version of DLP. The technique does not use layers. It continuously pulls from the vat. In order to make the required cross-sectional pattern on plastic, the machine separates a part from the vat. It then makes the part cross a light barrier.
This barrier is responsible for changing the configuration. Thus, you acquire the desired shape.
Another famous rapid prototyping manufacturing technique is Binder Jetting. It is possible to print several parts at one time. Thus, the technique is efficient. The parallel printing feature increase efficiency. However, at the same time, it leads to a decrease in robustness.
The parts are weak in comparison to the ones produced using SLS. To make a part’s layer, Binder jetting uses nozzles spray and a powder bed. The nozzle let go of micro-fine droplets on the powder bed. These droplets help in bonding the powder particles to create a part’s layer.
Next is the compaction of every layer. It uses a roller for this purpose. For the next layer, it first lays the powder and then repeats the process. After the parts are ready, they might require oven treatment. After all, it is important to fuse the powder of the required parts and to burn off the binding agent.
A process builds products or parts using the deposition material and digital 3D design data. Due to its efficiency and effectiveness, the process is extremely popular.
The Impact of Rapid Prototyping on the Manufacturing Process
The above prototyping methods have the capacity to create an accurate model of products. Thus, the manufacturers, designers, and engineers would have a similar product to analyze. They would be able to access different aspects of the product.
They would be able to identify potential errors. Once, they are fully satisfied only then will they will go into the full production phase. There are several reasons manufacturers use prototyping. It is extremely helpful in evaluating a product’s aesthetic appeal, ergonomics, and manufacturing capability.
Different prototyping methods offer different benefits. For instance, the SLA printing technique is useful for testing precision parts. It can help identify potential errors and problems. If the manufacturer uses a photopolymer layer of 01.mm, it can produce accurate parts. These parts would effective take the place of the original product in tests.
It is possible to put the prototype through a load tolerance test, aerodynamic performance, stress tolerance test, and tension test. With the help of rapid prototyping manufacturing techniques, manufacturers save time.
It now takes less time to go from the designing phase to the production phase. It is possible to create an accurate prototype in no time. In addition, manufacturers do not have to pay a lot of money. The cost-efficiency is extremely profitable for the manufacturers.
Since it is possible to produce a prototype in just two days, thus it increases product manufacturing efficiency. After approving the prototype, the manufactures can get down to the production process.
They can now focus on setting up the tools and the factory manufacturing process. Thus, decreasing the overall manufacturing cost.
Benefits of Rapid Prototyping manufacturing for Customers and Suppliers
There is no denying the impact of rapid prototyping in the manufacturing process. There are also several benefits. We will talk about these benefits later. However, for now, we will focus on how rapid prototyping is beneficial for suppliers and customers.
The suppliers are better able to estimate accurate production and cost time using these prototypes. If a certain prototype takes about 2 days, they could calculate the exact time required for creating the original product.
In addition, the suppliers can create metal cast using the SLA prototypes. They can use them as master patterns as well. Thus, the time to require setting up a factory and its tool decrease significantly.
On the other hand, it offers a number of benefits to consumers. The customer is able to physically see and holds their final product. They would give them a better idea of how the product would look and feel.
In addition, it would boost their confidence. In case, there is a problem, with the prototype, they can point it out. This will help in eliminating the problem in the final production phase. Likewise, it will help them save in the designing and manufacturing process.
Benefits of Rapid Prototyping in Product Development and Manufacturing
Rapid prototyping offers a number of benefits. Below, we did list some of these benefits.
We simply cannot deny the fact that rapid prototyping is cost-efficient. In addition, it is also faster in comparison to the construction a full-scale model. Manufacturers are able to create highly accurate prototypes using modern prototyping techniques.
Thus, they save amount, as prototypes are extremely cheaper to create than the original product.
In addition to being cost-efficient, rapid prototyping is also very time efficient. It reduces the time manufacturers need to develop special tools and molds. The prototype will help you generate the right kind of tools and molds.
Another great thing about rapid prototyping is that it has the ability to minimize waste. Unlike, creating a real testing product, prototypes require a minimal amount of raw material. You would use only that material that is required for prototyping.
The modern and sophisticated rapid prototyping technology can help you create marts of minuscule size. Similarly, it is possible to create prototypes of products that require complex geometries.
Three Dimensional Designs
Unlike the 2-D image on a computer, the prototyping offers a 3D product. Manufacturers and consumers can touch and feel the product. They can thoroughly analyze it before marching into the production phase.
Rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing have a lot to offer. It is possible to identify the potential problems and errors of a product via a prototype. The manufacturer would not have to bear the entire cost of producing a product in case of a fault in the final product.
With rapid prototyping and manufacturing, customization becomes easy. The client and the manufacturer can make all the desired changes. They make a change in the design without going through the hassle of changing the whole process.
Another advantage of prototyping is that it offers the ease of testing. The manufacturers no longer have to spend a great amount of testing. They need to focus on the prototype. After all, the properties of the prototype material are quite similar to that of the final product.
No need for Feedback
It is possible to make changes instantly. If there seems an error, the manufacturers can remove it. Thus, there is no need for them to wait for feedback before making any changes.
How to Choose a Prototyping technique?
Several factors contribute to making this decision. Below, we did list some of these factors.
Production of Volume
First and foremost, the manufacturer needs to understand the production volume. There are certain prototyping techniques that work well with smaller production volumes.
Speed of Production
Another factor that has a direct influence on the type of prototyping technique you choose is the speed of production. You need to know the amount of time you have before you deliver the final product. Some prototyping techniques require just 2 days to create a prototype.
On the other hand, certain techniques would require more time. In case, you can are in a hurry, you can go with techniques that require less time for creating an accurate prototype.
Of course, the amount of money you are willing to invest makes a lot of difference. Some techniques are expensive in comparison to others. For instance, Fused Deposition Modeling is less expensive than SLS.
Geometry of Parts
The complexity of the prototype has a great impact on the rapid prototyping technique. For example, Selective Laser Melting is the perfect technique to design and develop complex prototypes. It generates prototypes that are robust.
Intended use of Product or Parts
This is another important factor to consider. The manufacturer needs to pay heed to where the final products are to be used.
Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing Services to Support your Product
Prototype development is an important factor that helps in determining the viability of the product or apart. However, it may not be a practical solution from an operational and coastal perspective. Fortunately, Katio Mould manufacturers offer state of the art technology.
They use technologies like CAD and CAM software to alleviate any concerns of their respective clients. In addition, they make it possible for clients to join hands with their experts. Thus, fulfilling the needs of single-unit production.
How much does it cost?
The cost of rapid prototyping depends upon a number of factors including the size, shape, and volume of the parts. In addition, the material, the surface finish, and the amount of post-manufacturer processing contribute to the overall cost.
Katio Mould is among the leading prototyping companies. It has world-leading expertise and experience in rapid prototyping manufacturing techniques and additive manufacturing processes. With our expert designers, the end-users will be able to enjoy an accurate prototype of their product.