Why Is Rapid Prototyping Manufacturing Important?
Rapid prototyping integrated a group of technologies include CNC prototyping, 3D printing and CAD design etc that can quickly create a scale model of a physical part or assembly 3D printing and Rapid prototyping techniques have been constantly improved to applied many industries, including fabricated optic prototypes, automotive prototypes and rapid injection molds. Different types of rapid prototyping systems have different forming principles and system characteristics due to the different forming materials used. Among the more mature methods are SLA, SLS, FDM, and LOM.
The difference between 3D printing and RP
However, the basic principles are the same, that is, “layered manufacturing, layer by layer stacking” is similar to the mathematical integration process. Graphically speaking, the rapid prototyping system is like a “3D printer.” We visually call it “additive manufacturing.” Their differences can be clearly shown: price, complexity of the printing method, material choices, level of accuracy.
There are three main types of rapid prototyping technology:
3D printing–Being the pioneer of the Rapid Prototyping Service, this technology has a lot of variations suitable for different rapid prototyping steps. SLA Rapid Prototyping is a special technology that requires a whole tank of liquid plastic, which is a hardened layer by layer according to the rapid prototype model and rapid prototyping machines. This technology has the best surface finish. FDM Rapid Prototyping is the cheapest and fastest method of 3D-printing, where the polymer is extruded and placed onto the work plate layer by layer. SLS Rapid Prototyping is similar to SLA but the polymer is evenly spread over the whole working zone in the form of a powder and only the needed section is sintered or cured. The materials used in 3D- printing are usually plastics and polymers such as ABS, Polyethylene, Polycarbonate and so on.
Vacuum casting–It is a considerably new method of silicone rapid prototyping. The method involves using a master model to create silicone casting forms to be used by rapid prototypers for low volume part production. The advantage of this method is not only the ability to manufacture multiple parts in a short span of time but also that the rapid prototyping machine cost is practically zero. You can skip the vacuum for it to be an extremely cheap rapid prototyping technology.
Rapid Prototyping Process: Which is More Efficient and Economic?
3D-printing. The additive processes are the fastest among RP technologies. You can get a complete prototype within a day and the complexity of its surfaces is of no importance, just the total volume. However, 3D-printing materials are quite expensive as is the process itself. So, it’s perfect for standalone prototypes required as fast as possible.
Silicone casting. This process yields good surface finish and has outstanding repeatability due to the fact that you use the same mold. However, in order to cast parts in silicone molds, you need a master-model, which must be made manually or by 3D-printing. And there are some limitations such as no overhanging features. So, silicone casting is great for small volume plastic batches.
CNC machining. The most conventional process yields the best precision and surface finish in some cases comparable to grinding. Materials are unlimited as well, however, CNC machining takes long to prepare to and to set it up. That’s why it’s used if the precision is vital or if the prototype must be made of metal.
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