Have you ever had a great product design in mind, but could only wonder if it would be successful? Did you ever struggle to explain your vision and product design to co-workers, investors, or even external clients? Rapid prototyping is revolutionizing the plastic parts manufacturing design process by allowing engineers and designers to create high-quality prototypes that look, feel, and function as the final product should.
What is Rapid Prototyping?
Within the design process, it all starts with a concept or idea, then a hand drawn or digital design, and it is finally tested through a prototype. Rapid prototyping is the process of accelerated development of a prototype to demonstrate and showcase a product design. Rapid prototyping relies on three-dimensional computer-aided design data (CAD) for layout and typically uses 3D printers for production. Since prototypes are not usually produced from the same materials as the final product, the durability of the design cannot be determined.
- Clear Visualization of Design Concepts With rapid prototyping, designers and engineers can clearly demonstrate and share their design concepts with co-workers, investors, or clients. It is now easier to explain their ideas and visually see if there are any adjustments needed in the design.
- Improved Efficiency Before rapid prototyping was developed, designers and engineers had to wait a long time for prototypes to be built, and if a new prototype needed to be developed, it was expensive to produce. With rapid prototyping, companies are saving money, time, and effort by using the same machine to create different prototype design concepts.
- Customizable Designs It allows designers and engineers to quickly alter models and concepts to meet the client’s needs. Small parts that were previously hard to include are now easy to produce within a prototype design concept.
- Speed up Time to Market With rapid prototyping, companies can speed up their time to market through enhanced technology and quick and easy revisions of the design based on physical testing and feedback.
- Concept Prototypes If you need to generate many different ideas quickly, concept prototyping is your solution. This process helps designers and engineers showcase their design as well as test a product’s functionality. Due to the quick turnaround and the need to test more concepts, 3D printers are the ideal solution to produce concept modeling.
- Functional Prototypes Functional prototypes allow designers and engineers to show how a part will function under stress or in the field. Functional prototyping makes it easy to review the design, fit, function, and maneuverability of the product before proceeding with production. Depending on the end goal, a prototype can be 3D printed with various engineering plastics to test the success in a specific environment.