The companies of today now more than ever must rapidly get new and emerging products to market to remain competitive. Streamlining the product development process helps to quickly put new ideas into the hands of consumers, but testing remains a prohibitive limiter. The use of rapid prototyping manufacturing works to quicken the testing process and gives you the ability to improve its marketability and post-sales support.
Why Rapid Prototyping Manufacturing?
Rapid prototyping is a form of a prototype that is created with speed to represent a potential product visually, functionally, or a combination of both. Rapid prototyping manufacturing uses multiple techniques to quickly create a prototype to the satisfaction of a product development team. These techniques include additive techniques, such as 3D printing, or subtractive ones, such as CNC machining, with the goal and selection of these techniques being fully dependent on product requirements.
The use of rapid prototyping has been growing in manufacturing applications and offers a cost-effective way to save time and cut costs while maintaining quality. Concept models or visualizations to fully functional devices are all possible using one, or a mixture of, the available rapid prototyping methods now available. There are three additional advantages offered by rapid prototyping manufacturing that will help to more effectively drive product development to the finish line.
Advantage 1: Speed Means Cost Savings Without Sacrificing Quality
As the use of the word “rapid” indicates, speed is of the essence when using a rapid prototyping manufacturing strategy. But unlike the prototyping of the past, today’s digital technology and CAD computing power can deliver a quick turnaround on prototypes without the risk of losing any accuracy or performance attributes of the product. There are several built-in attributes to the rapid prototyping process that lend high-tech touches to the building of these prototypes:
- Modern CAD software provides simulation of designs in 3D before prototypes are built.
- CAD designs can be electronically transmitted directly into rapid prototyping machinery.
- Automated checks are performed during the prototype’s creation to keep accuracy at near-flawless levels.
- The digital-based nature of the design process streamlines communications for rapid adjustments.
The use of rapid prototyping manufacturing adds next-gen levels of precision to the testing process. This allows product developers to create complex designs without having to worry about not being able to bring the design from screen to reality. The wide variety of rapid prototyping options means there are multiple potential solutions to every prototype, with some resulting prototypes being good enough to be sold to the customer as-is.
Advantage 2: Rapid Prototyping Applications Are Expansive
Rapid prototypes provide many options for the examination and testing of a product. They can be used in any stage of the project and for any reason, including:
- Concept models. These prototype options give designers and project planners the chance to validate the design and desired product specifications. These can be used as marketing tools for the development of a marketing strategy or to present status to stakeholders.
- Functional prototypes. A functional prototype takes concept models to the next level through its accurate representation of what the final product will look like. This application of rapid prototyping allows designers and engineers to validate product functionality and to give them another shot at correcting the product’s shortfalls.
- Strength of material testing. The rapid prototype is a perfect place to perform product stress testing. Doing so gives you a fast, inexpensive way to establish product performance thresholds. In turn, this data can be used to create changes in the products used, as well as to establish operational limitations for warranty and support purposes.
Rapid prototype manufacturing makes it possible to engage in multiple prototyping applications at a minimum cost or time investment. Materials used in these prototypes come with few limitations, and the ability to create working representations of a design may allow for some prototypes to be instantly shelf-ready.
Advantage 3: The Use of Rapid Prototypes Will Streamline Development
Rapid prototypes give developers the ability to quickly create a prototype regardless of the proof of concept model they seek. This capability allows product development teams to reap large benefits when using rapid prototyping manufacturing to bring a product design to life. Development becomes even more efficient when supportive 3D CAD software is being used, which enables teams to communicate quickly and to establish a productive collaborative team structure.
Maximizing the benefits of rapid prototyping manufacturing starts with shortened and agile design timelines. But instead of relying on the limited lessons learned by your team, a good practice is to leverage a wider range of skills provided by an experienced and local manufacturing partner. They can look at your project and quickly align it to the most innovative of product development steps, making the rapid prototypes you produce more effective.
PRL is an end-to-end manufacturer—we pride ourselves on handling every aspect of the process for our partners. Our experts are here to guide you through each step of design, prototyping, customer analysis, development, manufacturing, and delivery.