A Missing Guide to Rapid Prototyping for Innovation Professionals
Innovation teams at top businesses share a similar desire — they want solutions found yesterday. With rapid prototyping, professionals can transform a digital graphic of a concept into a physical model quickly for testing. Various industries, from small enterprises to Fortune 500 companies, use rapid prototyping, indicating how crucial it is for executives to understand the process and staying competitive in the market.
A premier partner in pre-production manufacturing, Advantage Engineering delivers launchpad services to give thousands of businesses an advantage in their respective industries. Our rapid prototyping is flexible and strategic to help customers tackle challenging designs, ensure manufacturability, and comply with strict deadlines.
Rapid Prototyping in Theory
Rapid prototyping is a type of manufacturing process that forms models much faster than conventional methods. It consists of the technologies and techniques engineers utilize with 3D computer-aided design (CAD) data to develop and assemble 3D scale models of physical objects. Traditional prototyping is a subtractive process where pieces are removed from raw material to create a part, while rapid prototyping is an additive process where parts are built up layer by layer. Machines and software are the main driving forces behind rapid prototyping, typically requiring little human interaction.
Cutting-edge rapid prototyping technology allows innovative teams to swiftly shift from the concept phase to the production phase by accelerating testing. Researchers build, review, and iterate parts faster until they concur on the overall design of the prototype. Teams use the technology to test for non-functional properties, like appearance and form, and functional properties, such as regulatory aspects and longevity.
A Primer on Additive Manufacturing
Rapid prototyping and HP 3D printing are often referred to interchangeably, but in truth, rapid prototyping is just one of the numerous applications under the umbrella term "additive manufacturing." 3D printing replaces the time-consuming tooling and subtractive fabrication methods of traditional prototyping with CAD files to manufacture physical parts. Although additive manufacturing was once quite costly and inaccessible, advances have made the technology more ubiquitous in recent years. Various 3D printing materials are now available for additive manufacturing companies, like Advantage Engineering, to conduct cost-effective and fast in-house prototyping at every stage of product development. This includes the following technologies available from our facility:
Stereolithography: Stereolithography (SLA) uses a light source to convert and cure layers of liquids into solids. This versatile technology fabricates millimeter- to meter-sized parts with superior accuracy and detail. It also produces isotropic printed parts, which means they contain equal strength in the XY plane and Z-axis.
Selective Laser Sintering: This additive manufacturing process transforms 3D models into physical structures with lasers that sinter powdered plastic material. Selective laser sintering (SLS) efficiently develops durable and practical parts to reduce post-processing measures. SLS is inexpensive per part yet still delivers outstanding accuracy and resolution.
HP Multi Jet Fusion: Multi jet fusion (MJF) is a 3D printing process that creates working nylon prototypes and end-use production pieces as quickly as one day. Each layer prints while still hot to fuse and form finely detailed and isotropic functional parts. Convenient and flexible, MJF machines print in bulk and can make most any part from prototypes to end-use components.
Other Forms of Additive Manufacturing: There are several other types of additive manufacturing techniques, including fused deposition modeling (FDM), Carbon Digital Light Synthesis™ (DLS™) and more. Thanks to additive manufacturing companies with 3D printing expertise, testing and perfecting a design goes much faster. Innovation professionals can design parts during work hours, craft them overnight, clean and test the following day, and then tinker with the design before starting the process over again.
Advantage Engineering offers exceptional tooling capabilities to achieve fast lead times, with various processes delivering 24-hour turnarounds. We also focus on first-time quality to avoid wasting time re-producing parts or correcting mistakes, which helps our customers keep up with business demands.
What’s After Rapid Prototyping?
The process for making the prototype is not always the same as it is for creating the final product. Innovators need to be cognizant of factors that impact the transition from designing and testing to production, including:
The materials they choose (inexpensive and readily available are better for volume production)
The cosmetic and mechanical changes that may occur with a shift to new materials or a different manufacturing process
The number of finishes and components required for volume production
With low-volume production, innovative teams should optimize the manufacturing specifications and variables of the final product to deliver consistent and premium quality. The experts at Advantage Engineering offer outstanding solutions when your team shifts from rapid prototyping to low-volume production, ensuring your finished goods are brought to market as efficiently as possible.
Benefits of Rapid Prototyping
Innovative professionals at top companies continually develop and test new solutions, making rapid prototyping vital to their success. Rapid prototyping technology offers numerous advantages that help businesses stay ahead of the competition, including:
Reduced time and money spent designing and testing
In-house prototyping that eliminates the need to outsource
Enhanced ability to catch flaws before manufacturing begins
More opportunities to customize parts
Space for functionality and human engagement testing
The ability to design more complex shapes
Cleaner design processes with less waste
Rapid Prototyping with Advantage Engineering
Advantaged Engineering is a leader in pre-production manufacturing services. We're experts in making sure your projects come to life exactly the way you've envisioned. If the executives at your innovative business are searching for a rapid prototyping company, look no further. For more information on rapid prototyping and our additive manufacturing services, contact us today or begin a quote now.