What’s Rapid Prototyping?

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Rapid prototyping uses CAD drawings to quickly create physical models using materials like plastics, ceramics, and metals. It was developed in 1987 and is also known as solid freeform fabrication, 3D printing, and additive manufacturing. It reduces design cycle time and benefits professionals like engineers, architects, surgeons, artists, and archaeologists.

Rapid prototyping is a computer program that builds three-dimensional working models derived from a computer aided design (CAD) drawing. It is used to quickly and easily turn product designs into physical samples. The creation of physical samples using this method is achieved through Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) and CAD formats, as well as through cross-functional teams and integration.

The rapid prototyping method was first introduced to the market in 1987 after being developed with the help of stereolithography. Today it is also known as solid freeform fabrication, three-dimensional printing, freeform fabrication, and additive manufacturing. The rapid prototyping manufacturing process can produce the automatic construction of physical models with three-dimensional printers, stereolithography machines and even laser sintering systems.

Using a CAD drawing to create a physical prototype is simple enough for the user. First, the machine reads data from the provided CAD drawing. Next, the machine lays out a combination of liquid or powdered material in successive layers. The materials used in rapid prototyping are usually plastics, ceramics, wood-like paper, or metals such as stainless steel and titanium.

With rapid prototyping, each layer is built to match the virtual cross section taken from the CAD model. Therefore, the final model is built gradually with the help of these cross sections. Finally, the cross sections are glued together or fused with a laser. Melting the model automatically creates its final shape.

Rapid prototyping is necessary for anyone who wants to build models for clients, such as architects and engineers. It can reduce design cycle time, allowing more testing to be done on the design at a lower cost. That’s because each prototype can be completed in days or hours, rather than taking several weeks. In addition to engineers and architects, other professionals benefit from rapid prototyping, such as surgeons, artists and archaeologists.

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