How Does Rapid Prototyping Work?


If you are in the business of manufacturing components of any shape or size, be it for construction, tech, or toys, you know the importance of prototypes. Prototyping is the process of creating component samples made to test out a particular design idea.

Almost every physical product you see, use, and touch on a daily basis was once a prototype in a factory somewhere. It enables company’s to perfect product designs before they spend millions of dollars mass-producing components.

Rapid prototyping is the newest form of creating prototypes. Modern companies can save a lot of time and money by using the rapid prototype approach as opposed to the old way of doing things.

Wondering what rapid prototypes are, and why you should consider using this approach when designing your next product? Keep reading for answers to all your prototyping-related questions.

Why You Need Prototypes

When you want to bring a product to market, you first start with an idea. That idea needs to be fleshed out in as much detail as possible.

Then you need to take it beyond the imagination phase and into the design phase. Using computer-aided design (CAD) software, you can create virtual, 3D models of the components that need to be made in order to construct your final product.

But just because you have components and products designed on a computer program doesn’t mean they are going to work or fit perfectly. This is when you need to begin the prototyping phase.

When prototyping, you need to create physical samples of the components you have designed. Your goal is to test functionality. Do they work the way you intend them to? Do they fit together in order to assemble your final product?

If not, it would be a costly mistake to manufacture the products and components, only to find out later on that they don’t work.

Prototypes give you a hands-on example of what a final product will look, feel, and function like. They are essential in every industry that requires the manufacturing of physical tools, components, or products.

What Is Rapid Prototyping?

So what is rapid prototyping? It’s the opposite of the traditional method used to create prototypes.

In the past, companies have had to hire full-scale manufacturing facilities to create product molds. This process takes a long time and can be very expensive.

The worst part is, that you invest so much time and money into product models, only to create samples. You don’t even know if these prototypes will be any good.

So oftentimes, after the initial prototyping, the design needs to be adjusted slightly. This leaves you needing to invest in more product molds, taking more time and costing more money.

It’s a long, painful, and expensive process. But luckily, new technology has come about that allows for a much faster, and much more affordable way to create prototypes.

It’s called rapid prototyping. It takes the 3D renderings designed on the computer and prints them on a 3D printer. The process is near-instantaneous.

This blog post explains rapid prototyping, how it works, and how to get started, in much more detail.

Benefits of Rapid Prototyping

When you use the rapid prototyping method, whether you have an in-house printer or you contract a rapid prototype specialist, you can move down the product design funnel much quicker.

You’ll be able to test more designs, making as many adjustments as needed, without wasting a ton of money creating unique product molds for each design. This gives you the ability to get creative and be patient with your design process, allowing you to really perfect your components.

On top of that, your time to market can be much faster. When rapid prototyping, you are bypassing all of the bottlenecks that made prototyping take so long in the past.

You can figure out what works and what doesn’t very quickly, so you can adjust and move forward. You can get your product to market in a fraction of the time it took in years past.

The process also saves tons of money. Producing prototypes on 3D printers does cost money, but it’s far less than traditional prototyping. So if you are a small business, this can truly empower you to compete with larger company’s.

And if you are a large company that is constantly designing and developing new products, you’ll save countless dollars in your manufacturing process.

Contract Out Your Prototyping

One of the draws of the rapid prototype approach is that it can often be done in-house. By purchasing the right 3D printing equipment, and materials needed to actually print your designs, you can test products on your own, in-house.

This can be very cost-effective if you do a lot of prototyping. However, most businesses will find that it makes more sense to hire their prototyping out.

When you work with a company that specializes in 3D prototyping, they’re going to have many different printers and materials available. They’ll be able to try things in ways you won’t be able to with the single, limited printer that you’ve purchased.

Different types of designs and materials are going to work better using different printing techniques and machines. Plus, having the many different materials necessary to truly test out your designs is complicated.

Dedicated companies are always going to have the materials you need to bring your designs to life. They’ll also be able to make recommendations that could make your designs more effective and more efficient.

After all, they do this day in and day out. They know what it takes to design tiny components that fit inside electronics, and what it takes to create massive components for bulldozers, and everything in between.

Do yourself a favor and work with professionals to get your designs completed in the most effective way possible.

Make Your Manufacturing More Efficient

Rapid prototyping has changed the name of the game when it comes to manufacturing and design. Product design is much quicker and prototyping is much more affordable than ever before.

Make sure you take advantage of the benefits of rapid prototypes for your next design.

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