Rapid Prototyping: What It Is and How It Benefits Your Business
Jun 20 2019
Rapid prototyping is taking the world by storm. It is a cornerstone in commercial circles to transform UX design as we know it.
But the question remains; Just what is rapid prototyping? This process helps designers quickly see their design ideas enter the physical realm. It is essentially the swift creation of a full-scale model. Rapid prototyping creates a three-dimensional visualization for items that are rendered digitally. Thus, the effectiveness of a product can be tested before large scale production.
What are the advantages of rapid prototyping? In today’s increasingly competitive market where budgets are restrained, rapid prototyping engineering solutions in BC are picking up traction. It is critical to take this process seriously in order to produce a great product.
Thus, a strong feedback loop is developed early on in the design foray and that prototype can be adjusted and changes implemented while the product is still in the system. The result? The user’s needs are met in much a cheaper manner.
Why Are Rapid Prototypes So Important?
Abstract ideas are hard to share and even harder for the other person to properly envisage. Human brains are engineered to embrace and process visuals over words.
Why do we use rapid prototyping? For instance, in network design, rapid prototyping can be used to map the architecture of the new network. Sharing information is a visual format in the form of a wireframe, picture or mockup is always the preferred route. This is why a process like rapid prototyping is amazing for pitching new ideas. In this regards, there’s a popular adage doing the rounds: “If a picture is worth 1000 words, a prototype is worth 1000 meetings.”
Moreover, the feedback process is infinitesimally easier with rapid prototyping. Everyone is seeing and experiencing the same thing for themselves, so it’s simpler to provide feedback on any design decisions.
Traditional prototyping techniques had several drawbacks that hindered the workflow. These typically include sketching, wireframing, mockups, prototyping and coding - a very time-consuming procedure.
The process was even worse if, during the testing stage, the team realized that there was an error in the hypothesis while building the prototype. One wrong assumption leads to a massive waste of energy and time.
With so much at stake, rapid prototypes are essential to weed out the inconsistencies and errors as early on as possible.
Types of Rapid Prototyping
What are the different types of rapid prototyping? There are seven different methods for creating a rapid prototype. We’ve summarized them below!
This was the first successful commercial 3D printing tactic. Essentially, it uses a vat of photosensitive liquids that are solidified layer by layer using a UV light monitored by a computer. This technique is suitable for vacuum casting. It is quick and gives the end product a great surface finish.
2. Selective Laser Sintering
This is suitable for a plastic or metal prototype. It uses a powder bed fusion where each component is created on a build plate layer by layer, using a laser to compact the powder media. The biggest advantage here is that is it great for intricate geometries like lattice structures that would be tricky to execute with any other method.
3. Fused Deposition Modeling
This enables the building of small functional components in a quick, clean and affordable manner. A computer system sends design-based commands to a controller's head. The latter releases the melted thermoplastic to build the prototype layer by layer on the basis on precise design coordinates.
4. Selective Laser Melting
This calls for carefully monitored conditions where very fine metal powder elements of a uniform shape and size are welded onto a build plate. The high-powered laser responsible for doing this is in a sealed chamber. This tactic is great for creating prototypes that have to be sturdy, durable and complex.
5. Laminated Object Manufacturing
In this process, an array of slim laminates are spread out on a build platform. These laminates can be plastic, metallic or paper. A computer controlled laser traces out the pattern with each layer and reduces the thickness of one layer, adds a new laminate and the process goes forth.
6. Digital Light Processing
This process is faster and uses a more shallow reservoir of photoresist which cuts on costs. Much like the Stereolithography method, it cures resin but uses a more conventional light source. It produces a great dimensional tolerance and surface finishes in the end product.
7. Binder Jetting
This is perfect for high-volume mass productions. A horizontal print bed is covered in metal powder and dozens of nozzles spray micro-thin droplets of liquid binder to develop one layer of the prototype. This layer is hem condensed with a roller, recoated with powder and sprayed for the subsequent layer.
Interested in Rapid Prototyping?
Euro BC is at your service! We can help you decide which technique is the best for your business in terms of speed, strength, cost and available resources. You’ll love the quotes we have in store for you! Contact us today and get personalized advice for your next project.