Have you ever faced difficulty in communicating the idea of your product to others? Or, even if created a basic model, it lacks functionality? Well, rapid prototyping is going to be the answer to all such problems.
We’ll dive deep into getting familiar with the technology of rapid prototyping with 3D.
Prototyping has remained a crucial step in product development.
With prototyping, we can create realistic proof-of-concept models that function similarly to the final product. Thus, we get the opportunity to validate it better using real-world testing before entering the stage of mass production.
What is Rapid Prototyping?
Rapid prototyping refers to the different techniques used for creating a physical part, building a model or assembly with all attributes of the final product using 3D Computer-Aided Design (CAD) data.
Unlike traditional subtractive manufacturing, these models are constructed using additive fabrication techniques; hence, the term is synchronized with additive manufacturing and 3D printing.
Earlier, 3D printing used to be very expensive and involved many complexities, which limited its use to large corporations. Even small businesses struggled to create prototypes.
With rapid prototyping or Additive manufacturing, we now have the freedom to create unlimited models without any tooling and create prototypes that perform similar functionalities as the final model.
With in-house 3D printing, engineers and designers can now quickly iterate digital designs and physical properties based on the product’s performance in real-life testing.
This will aid in faster marketing of products than the competition, as an actual prototype is created within a day.
Why Rapid Prototyping?
Rapid prototyping has revolutionized the product development process by making it easier to validate any product and how it will perform in real-life situations before mass production.
Let’s look at some of the advantages of rapid prototyping so you can start your prototyping journey today!
1. Explore Concepts Faster
You might have cracked the code to the best product for your business. But have you tested it in real life?
Ideas can be great when visualized virtually; however, it doesn’t mean they’ll succeed in real life.
With rapid prototyping, you can try out your ideas by creating their prototypes within a day.
This helps explore your ideas or concepts better by validating the design or look and feel or even comparing two prototypes.
2. Communicate Ideas Effectively
3D printing, being expensive earlier, was accessible to only large corporations as small businesses couldn’t afford the cost of a prototype, and even if they did, the iterations would take a lifetime to complete.
Having a realistic prototype helps in communicating your ideas in a better way to the investors; so, it’s crucial for all businesses.
With rapid prototyping, we can now present proofs of concept with actionable user feedback, which aids the investors in understanding the user needs of the product.
3. Easier to Iterate and Incorporate Changes
Earlier, small businesses would outsource their prototyping to specialized 3D printing companies.
Now, to iterate a design, they had to wait a lifetime.
Design is a process that requires numerous iterations, testing, evaluation, and refinement; it’s essential to design faster to market faster.
Rapid prototyping with 3D printing has enabled designers to incorporate changes instantly and make iterations faster, thus making the tedious process of trial and error faster.
And this, in turn, will aid in reaching the desired and refined product.
4. Saves Cost and Time
Can you imagine companies cutting costs of prototypes up to 80% by deploying rapid prototyping technology?
The traditional subtractive manufacturing techniques were costly and complex and took a considerable investment of money and time. This was too difficult for small businesses.
Rapid prototyping makes prototyping affordable and saves the time associated with outsourcing.
Applications of Rapid Prototyping
Have you ever thought of minimizing your design flaws to increase the usability of a product?
Well, rapid prototyping aids in identifying and eliminating design flaws so that companies wouldn’t have to do expensive revisions for the same product many times.
If your product’s prototype with the same attributes as the final product is tested thoroughly, you minimize the risks of usability and manufacturing issues, thus making your finished product perfect.
Now let’s get to know some of the applications of rapid prototyping technology.
1. Proof-of-Concept Prototypes
Proof of Concept prototypes helps in validating an idea or concept or even assumption before mass production.
With these concept models, you could pitch your idea to the investors, discuss if the idea is accepted or rejected. Remember, now you have proof.
It’s a crucial step in product design and development, as in the early stages of product design, we get to evaluate and validate assumptions or ideas before moving the product further.
Speed being a factor in product design, designers can create a PoC model of assumptions faster by using 3D printers.
Also, desktop 3D printers don’t need much space and are blazingly fast in creating a physical prototype out of a computer file.
2. Looks like prototypes
Looks like prototypes abstractly resemble the final product but may lack many of its functionalities.
The main idea behind such prototypes is to evaluate the overall product design and how a user will interact with it.
For instance, we can use looks like prototypes to validate ergonomics or user interfaces before spending a lot of time developing the functionalities.
CAD modelling is a crucial step in creating prototypes as the design journey involves iterating digital designs and physical models. Also, looks like prototypes replicate the final products in terms of their color, material, and finishes.
3. Works like prototypes
So, if you want to evaluate your final product’s functionalities via a physical model, works like prototypes are the way.
They are used to thoroughly test the mechanical, electrical, and thermal systems of the product. Their design may not comply with the final product, but it includes all the functionalities to be tested or refined. These are useful in situations where we need to test core functions of different parts before integrating them into a single product prototype.
This way, teams can take responsibility for developing different parts and make the process faster by testing them individually before integrating them.
Technology helps us complete tasks faster with less input. With rapid prototype technologies, individuals can now validate their ideas without spending a surplus amount on just developing a prototype.
Time being money, businesses, thanks to rapid prototyping, can now develop product design and evaluate ideas faster and even market products faster than their competitors.
Companies like Tooliqa which are working on simplifying 3D object modelling for end-users might have a significant bearing on the prototyping process.
How things will shape up in the near future with respect to these developments and their applications, would be an interesting journey.
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