After more than 15 years of research, development, and use various sectors continues to grow with the addition of new technologies, methods, and applications of rapid prototyping. In an effort to reduce time-to-time market, improve quality and reduce cost, companies of all sizes have come to rely on rapid prototyping as tools for conceptual design, patterns for molds and castings, prototyping manufacturing and short-run series production.Let’s take a look at some of the sectors that make use of rapid prototyping
The use of Rapid prototyping for medical applications although still in early days has made impressive strides. Its use in orthopaedics surgery, maxillofacial and dental reconstruction, preparation of scaffold for tissue engineering and an educational tool in fields as diverse as obstetrics and gynecology and forensic medicine to plastic surgery has now gained wide acceptance and is likely to have far-reaching impact on how complicated cases are treated and various conditions taught in medical schools.
Rapid prototyping can be used with different materials, meaning that you can manufacture a wide range of models with specific applications. Far from being just a prototype-builder, it now serves as a real solution in manufacturing and aerospace.
The quick turnaround and ability to perform changes without being costly to make rapid prototyping attractive to many as does the option to validate a product before full-scale manufacturing. In the aerospace industry in specific, these techniques allow the crafting of complex structures at a reduced cost and timescale.
These complex and innovative designs are a necessity in the industry, as crafts get smaller and more efficient, and without rapid prototyping, it would be challenging to assemble all the components needed.
Nothing is constant except for change. This is the reason that government and those in the private sector always strive to achieve new heights in the development of better machines and equipment.
A very good example is the military. Each branch of the service users weapons and equipment to get a job done. The government does not only set a budget to arm and feed the troops but a huge portion goes to research and development.
The military may have a department to conduct tests but those who do most of the work are outside contractors who over prototyping services. For example, if the United States Air force wants a new fighter, various people are asked to bid on the project. In fact, Boeing and Lockheed Martin each made a version and the top brass will then decide which one will go into production.
Rapid prototyping can be used in just about all industrial sectors as it makes possible to produce a prototype with any geometric complexity or shape; also, models can be made of numerous materials. From design to production all industries can benefit from rapid prototyping, but also private customers can bring their ideas to life using this technology.
The process starts with a 3D file created using a CAD program, the file is then converted into STL file setting a number of parameters so to obtain a fine mesh and, consequently, increase the prototype accuracy and resolution. Then, a feasibility study evaluates the project paying a special attention to wall thickness while taking into account the technology chosen for the production. The prototype manufacturing process is now ready to begin: STL files are sent to the machine and physical models are produced.
So why should different sectors make use of rapid prototyping for their various businesses and dealings? Below are some reasons why I think sectors need the services of rapid prototyping tools.
- Unleash cross-team creativity
Designers are experienced at it, but amazing ideas can come from anywhere. Rapid prototyping brings the client, agency, and users into the process at an early stage.
- Enable objective feedback
Prototypes at different fidelities allow you to get agency and client feedback early on, and customer feedback later. This enables better and more effective iteration of your solutions.
- Attaining customer-centricity
Prototyping helps you to understand how environment and situational factors affect the user and their interaction with the application. You can show people a potential solution in context.
- Challenge assumptions and validate the direction
With sufficient feedback, you can be confident in the basic ideas underpinning our solutions, as they have been battle-tested by potential customers
- Total cost savings
When you have confidence in your product, you don’t waste time and money going to market with an inferior solution that is destined to underperform.