For successful product development, prototyping is regarded as the most crucial component of product designing. However, for decades, it has been the most time-consuming and costly stage. Creating physical models for testing took weeks, and traditional prototyping methods like injection molding cost a lot of money due to expensive tools and materials. This meant that creating a low volume of custom prototypes was overly expensive. With the advent of rapid prototyping, designers and manufacturers can turn their product ideas into physical models quickly to replicate how the actual would look, feel, and behave. The convenience it provides serves as the ideal process for rigorous testing and validations before the appropriate design is finalized and ready for mass production.
Types of Prototyping
Usually, there are three major types of prototyping; form, function, and final prototype. Designers create the form of prototypes to fabricate the appearance and feel of the actual concept. However, they don’t function or perform the way the product is supposed to.
On the other hand, prototypes are designed to perform the functions of the actual product, regardless of its design. Lastly, the final prototype is built to combine both the form and function aspects of the product.
Why is Rapid Prototyping Important for Organizations?
Rapid manufacturing, sometimes referred to as additive manufacturing and 3D printing, utilizes a series of techniques that quickly creates a product prototype or one of its parts with the help of 3D-CAD (Computer-Aided Design). There are several reasons why rapid prototyping is essential for products planning to launch new products.
Since prototypes can be quickly created with rapid prototyping, designers can come up with physical products to demonstrate to top management or investors. Once the design is passed, these prototypes can be used for rigorous testing and modifications. To have a competitive age over their rivals, companies can quickly launch their prototypes in the market to get valuable customer feedback before the final launch.
How Rapid Prototyping Helps in Product Development
Rapid prototyping provides numerous benefits in the product development phase. With rapid prototyping, designers are able to create full-scale product models that can be tested for potential flaws and weak links. While traditional prototypes were made from clay and wood, with rapid prototyping, designs are quickly fabricated using modern techniques like 3D printing, CNA, CNC, and SLS.
CNC, in particular, is a convenient technique for prototyping. Not only does it deal with metal, but it can also be used for plastic objects. CNC is especially important when the designers want to test the strength and durability of an object. It works perfectly with other components like gluing and welding.
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