Rapid Prototyping Explained
The traditional prototyping process has been a source of much pain for product designers and manufacturers. It is a clunky, time-consuming and expensive process that often leads to significant cost and time overruns due to errors in design or execution.
Fortunately, this is going to be a thing of the past. The rise of additive manufacturing techniques like 3D printing and stereolithography have revolutionized the prototyping process, allowing for greater precision with faster turnaround times and lower costs.
This process has come to be called Rapid Prototyping and it is truly a game-changer for the manufacturing industry. Here’s why –
Rapid Prototyping Saves Time
By eliminating the requirement to produce specialized molds and tools for each new product, rapid prototyping has significantly reduced the time taken (as the name suggests) from product design to prototype analysis. Any learnings from this process can be quickly implemented further in the development process.
Rapid Prototyping Saves Money
The creation of molds and tools is not only time-consuming, but also very expensive. Any changes to product design in the development process also incur additional costs in redesigning these manufacturing tools.
Additive manufacturing entirely removes the need for this process and its inherent costs. In addition, traditional prototyping processes are subtractive, where material is cut away from a solid block to create the product. This also causes losses in wastage that do not occur with additive manufacturing.
Rapid Prototyping Allows Easier Visualization
Product designer often find it difficult to translate the final look and feel of a product to others based only on digital models. The speed and convenience of additive manufacturing has made it much easier to reach this proof-of-concept stage and streamlined the design feedback process for designers everywhere.
Rapid Prototyping Reduces Manufacturing Risk
Mass manufacturing requires rigorous quality control because any small error in the process can result in an entire batch of defective product. One of the key elements in this quality control process is a 100% accurate prototype that can be used a reference. Rapid prototyping allows for detailed physical analysis at an early stage, allowing designers to test for defects and make appropriate modifications before major problems occur in manufacturing.
Rapid Prototyping Unlocks the Potential of Design Thinking
Design thinking refers to the process by which designers seek to solve complex problems and find desirable solutions – a process that places a premium on the power of iterative development and repeated prototyping and testing. This method has proliferated far beyond its roots in the creative disciplines and become accepted in fields as varied as tech, entertainment and government policy.
Rapid prototyping has removed the technical barriers to design thinking for manufacturing companies and empowered product designers to freely design and test new ideas without fearing of wasting time and money. It is at the forefront of the new industrial revolution that is already underway in manufacturing.
At MorphoMFG, we have embraced the value that rapid prototyping has to offer for our clients. Our experience with this method has been entirely positive and we remain convinced that its influence will only grow as additive manufacturing technology improves and becomes more widely accessible.