Fast Prototyping orRapid Prototyping (RP). It can be defined as a group of techniques used to quickly fabricate a scale model of a part or assembly using three-dimensional Computer Aided Design (CAD) data.
The first methods for fast prototyping became available in the late 1980s and were used to produce models and prototype parts. Today, they are used for a wide range of applications and are used to manufacture production-quality parts in relatively small numbers if desired without the typical unfavorable short-run economics.
FastPrototyping has also been referred to as solid free-form manufacturing, computer automated manufacturing, and layered manufacturing. Fast Prototyping has obvious use as a vehicle for visualization. In addition, Fast Prototyping models can be used for testing, such as when an airfoil shape is put into a wind tunnel. Fast Prototyping models can be used to create male models for tooling, such as silicone rubber molds and investment casts. In some cases, the fastprototyping part can be the final part, but typically the fastprototyping material is not strong or accurate enough. When the RP material is suitable, highly convoluted shapes (including parts nested within parts) can be produced because of the nature of RP.
Advantages of Fast Prototyping
Opportunities for Innovation
• Fast prototyping opens new opportunities for innovation by eliminating the restrictions of conventional prototyping, which requires production of prototype tooling and physical components to exacting tolerances.
• By eliminating the time needed to produce molds, patterns and special tools required for conventional modeling, Fastprototyping reduces time between initial design and analysis.
• An accurate model is quickly available for testing form, features, performance and usability.
• Fastprototyping helps to reduce the costs of product development.
• There is no need to develop special tools for each new product. Fastprototyping uses the same CAD and printing equipment each time.
• The automated prototyping process also reduces staff costs. The costs of waste are lower, because the prototyping technique only adds modeling material where needed.
• The ability to create a realistic three-dimensional scale model helps designers present new product concepts to stakeholders, such as board members, clients or investors who need to understand and approve the development program.
• By enabling detailed physical analysis at an early stage in the development program, Fastprototyping can reduce the risk of costly errors.
• The iterative process provides a precise model for production tooling, reducing the risk of later manufacturing problems.
Support for Customization
• Rapid prototyping is an iterative process, so it is easy to incorporate individual customers’ requirements and create customized products cost effectively.
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