What is Rapid Prototyping?
Rapid Prototyping is about producing the parts with exact or close characteristics to prevent possible mistakes before a mass production process. At a much lower amount (like 1 to 100 units) in comparison to mass production or pre-mass production, and based on the geometry of any given part, it’s possible to produce it in a few hours to a few days. You can manufacture your parts in basically 5 different maufacturing technologies.
How does Rapid Prototyping Work?
After the generation of data, the manufacturing technology is determined based on your need or your expectations from the part, and then the production starts.
PRODUCTION WITH FDM TECHNOLOGY
Rapid Prototyping In the FDM technology, the striped plastic raw material is conveyed to the extrusion head. Here, the material is melted and heated. The extrusion head forms the first layer to form the component by pouring the molten material into drops into an empty tray. In each layer, the tray moves one step down so that the piece is constructed in layers. During the construction, a separate structure is formed which acts as a support and after the production is completed, this structure is removed from the part. Support is water soluble in recent years with new materials developed.
PRODUCTION WITH MJF TECHNOLOGY
HP’s patented Multi Jet technology, which is used for fast printing on 2D printers, was introduced to 3D printers.
In practice, the steps starting with melting PA12 powder from the reservoir with the additives in 30 million droplets per second and fusing the layer continue with the temperature of the additives. This cycle is repeated until the pattern appears.
Even though the technology is similar to SLS technology, it is possible to produce the final product in MJF Technology, which provides faster, more precise and voxel-level management over the models, and even mass production at appropriate cost per part.
PRODUCTION WITH SLA TECHNOLOGY
Rapid Prototyping Stereolithography technology is based on the principle of curing certain areas of the photopolymer resin layer which is liquid at room temperature by means of a spot ultraviolet laser beam. The resin layer is plastered onto the first and the curing process is continued in order to produce the part. Once the layers are complete, the fragment is removed from the resin pool. When the part is formed, the supporting structure is mechanically separated from the part. In stereolithography technology, photopolymer resins specific to this method are used as raw material.
PRODUCTION WITH SLS TECHNOLOGY
Rapid Prototyping In SLS technology, the powdered plastic material is scanned by a computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software and a laser beam. The material in the scanned areas fuses together by sintering and the first layer of the piece is formed. The second powder layer is coated on the first and the sintering process is continued, respectively, to produce the part. Once the layers are complete, the piece is removed from the dust pool. Support technology is not used in this technology. Polyamide is often used as construction material.
PRODUCTION WITH POLYJET TECHNOLOGY
Rapid Prototyping In Polyjet technology, photopolymer resin, which is in liquid state at room temperature, is applied to injection heads. A 16 micron diameter 1536 nozzle on each injection head is sprayed from the nozzle to form a layer on an empty tray. The sprayed raw material is frozen by ultraviolet lamps. In each layer, the tray moves one step down and the pieces are constructed in layers. The raw material used in Polyjet systems is photopolymer resins specific to this method. It has a wide range of materials with very different thermal and mechanical properties.
Production with DMP Technique
Fast Prototyping DMP technology is same with SLS, but it also sends moving laser rays over metal dust. In scanned areas, the materials is fused through sintering and the first layer is created. Since the support structure is also made of metal in this technique, it is taken away by conventional methods. It works with a lot of different materials, including ceramic and Ti6-4.
- CONSEPT MODELLING APPLICATIONS
This is the method to get a solid model of a designed project in a few hours to see how it will come out in real life. Before functional tests, concept modelling provides you an opportunity to analyze the concept model in real life.
- FUNCTIONALITY APPLICATIONS
When the design is complete, the necessary tests can be done more comfortably in this phase. Aside the durability tests like crash or pull, the results of chemical durability tests show you if it fits with your concept model. It also helps you to functional parts to perform different sort of tests.
- PRODUCTION SUPPORTIVE ELEMENT APPLICATIONS
This is the application that is used for the production of complex parts or the parts that help for control and assembly processes after the production, like jigs or fixtures. It provides more economical and faster solutions compared to the more conventional methods.
- LAST USER PART APPLICATIONS During the low unit or custom order productions, this is a method to meet the demand at an optimal level without a mould cost, more economically, and faster. It helps to create a perfect part for one-on-one or last user product.
Advantages of Fast Prototyping Applications
- It saves time
- It shortens the production time, prodiving an advantage against the competition
- Lowering the moulding costs, it helps with economy and competition
- It prevents mistakes
- It helps with improvement and ergonomy efforts
- It allows to produce complex parts at once
Important Factors to Consider in Fast Prototyping
- Compared to conventional methods, cost per unit may be higher in some cases.
- Original product materials may not be used all the time.
- Adequate sensitivity may not be shown where it takes high level of sensitivity.