Imagine a scenario where you manufacture a device in bulk only to find out that some parts don’t work in conjunction with others, deeming the product completely useless. That’s a nightmare for any firm in the manufacturing industry. Manufacturing firms are using rapid prototyping in their product design phase to avoid similar problems. Manufacturers create a 3D model of a part of a product to test its efficiency before manufacturing in large quantities. Rapid prototyping allows product designers to demonstrate the look and feel of the product to clients or in-house management. The manufacturing industry is increasingly adopting rapid prototyping, 3D printing, and additive manufacturing in the product design process to transform the concept into reality effectively. So how exactly can design teams and manufacturing companies benefit from rapid prototyping?
Design accuracy and precision
Conventional industrial prototyping was a very iterative process and inefficient, resulting in lower quality manufacturing standards. For instance, design firms used cardboards, empty cans, and deo roll-ons to create the first prototype of a computer mouse. The problem with such prototyping is that it is a distance apart from the final product and fails to acknowledge real-world working conditions. Rapid prototyping allows for flawless product design and flexibility with the help of rigorous testing, evaluation, and quick remodeling capabilities. Rapid prototyping and 3D modeling rely on software such as CAD, which facilitates virtual product trials and error elimination.
Incorporating instant changes
One way of gaining a competitive advantage is being the first to introduce innovative products to the market. Being the first-mover in the manufacturing industry requires companies to have a very short time to market. Iterative product revisions slow down the product development process and the time-to-market as well. Rapid prototyping allows product designers to instantly incorporate client or management feedback and move the product through multiple changes quickly. This way, the final product meets the market demand and increases the acceptance rates and competitiveness of the company.
Communication of idea
Before a product hits the market, it gets approved by various internal and external stakeholders including management, product designers, marketers, clients, collaborators, and regulatory bodies. If the prototype is weak and doesn’t communicate the idea clearly, companies will face hindrances in getting quick approvals; thereby, delaying the product launch. Rapid prototyping allows companies to build sophisticated designs and present the design idea in a detailed and clear way due to their CAD capabilities. Easy communication of design ideas thereby translates to rapid innovation.
There’s a high probability of incorporating customized changes along the design process. Rapid prototyping allows for the development of personalized products as per individual requirements without the need for special tools or processes. All that is required is a small change in the CAD model, and they can deliver the design as per the requirement of the customer.
Minimizing design flaws
Since rapid prototyping allows for changes to be incorporated swiftly, all design flaws can be addressed instantaneously. With the help of additive manufacturing, the company can identify flaws prior to mass production. Since the prototype material closely resembles the properties and strength of the actual product, it allows for physical tests to be performed effortlessly. Consequently, product faults and usability issues can be identified earlier to prevent hiccups in the manufacturing process later.
Cost and time savings
Additive manufacturing can eliminate the need for developing molds, patterns, and special tools – resulting in massive time savings. Unlike conventional prototyping methods like CNC machining, rapid prototyping produces minimal wastages as it only prints the materials that are actually required to build the object. As a result, it offers enormous cost and time savings to the manufacturers.
For more information on rapid prototyping in the manufacturing industry, product design, additive manufacturing, and 3D printing: