The Top Four Rapid Prototyping Methods

by Walter Smith
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For business people, designers and engineers, rapid prototyping companies are a lifesaver. Rapid prototyping services are a crucial step in product development. Getting a product from a model on paper to an actual prototype can be a long and tedious process, which is where rapid prototyping comes in. This article will take a closer look at the methods and techniques used in rapid prototype manufacturing.

1. Stereolithography (SLA)

There is a close relationship between 3D printing and rapid prototyping. A fun fact about stereolithography; it was the first commercial 3D printing method actually to work. The technique uses UV light guided by a computer. The software used, .stl, is designed to derive three layers from a cross-two-dimension of a 3D CAD model.

This technique is best suited for the creation of master patterns for vacuum casts. Fast speeds are a core advantage of this prototyping method. It is also and pocket friendly with strong, quality surface finishing.

2. Selective laser sintering

This prototyping method uses an additive manufacturing process called powder bed fusion, which uses laser technology. The method lays layers consecutively on a piece of pre-existing cast model.

This method’s most pronounced drawback is the rough surface texture that requires additional work to smoothen. Resulting prototypes are not as strong as other prototyping methods produce them. Improvements in rapid prototyping software may, in the future, make room for a smooth textured finish.

3. Fused deposition modeling

This model makes the primary use of plastic to build 3D models. This technique is common in households and offices. A thin plastic string passes through a printing nozzle to turn into hot resin in liquid form, which is then carefully laid down layer after layer. The machine is controlled by stl software.

Some advantages of fused deposition modeling are; inexpensive and accommodate various colors that you can combine into a model. Since this method is not industrial, it does not feature high-quality finishes, and the strength of completed models is not up to standard.

4. Binder jetting

Binder jetting is a relatively new method of additive manufacturing. The technique works by spraying a binding solution onto a layer of metal powder to form a solid layer; pressure is then applied using a roller onto the layer to strengthen it. A coat of metal dust is added on top and then sprayed a second time.

After the initial creation, the models are passed through an oven to cure. This particular technique has the potential for mass production. Binder jetting allows for the printing of numerous parts at the same time. The technology used here is still under development. When fully developed, end products should give SLS prototypes a run for their money.

In conclusion

Whichever rapid prototyping method you choose to go with, you are sure to get a model of acceptable quality. Technological advancements will only improve rapid prototyping services. You might also want to look into these rapid prototyping methods; digital light processing, laminated object manufacturing, and poly jetting. The future of rapid prototyping and 3D printing is bright.

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