Rapid Prototyping

Rapid prototyping is the automatic construction of physical objects using solid freeform fabrication. The first techniques for rapid prototyping became available in the late 1980s and were used to produce models and prototype parts. Today, they are used for a much wider range of applications and are even used to manufacture production quality parts in relatively small numbers. Some sculptors use the technology to produce complex shapes for fine arts exhibitions.

The cutting edge technology of mechanically drawing physical models from computer-aided-design data signifies the term rapid prototyping (RP). This revolutionary technology, also called by the terms Desktop Manufacturing and Freedom Fabrication helps in creating tough replicas that can exchange the ideas loud and clear to the co-workers and potential clientele, which is an added advantage during the design-testing phase.

The advantages of rapid prototyping includes

  • It makes the complex steps of final assembling of machine parts simpler and easier.
  • It makes the whole complicated process of creativity into a rather convenient and faster way of accomplishment.
  • It has turned out to be the most economical way of producing parts as well as in saving production time.

A large number of competing technologies are available in the marketplace. As all are additive technologies, their main differences are found in the way layers are built to create parts. Some are melting or softening material to produce the layers (SLS, FDM) where others are laying liquid materials thermosets that are cured with different technologies. In the case of lamination systems, thin layers are cut to shape and joined together.