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Prototyping used to be an expensive and time-consuming process in engineering, but fortunately, recent technological developments in 3D printing have changed that. Although 3D printing technology has been around for more than 30 years, it’s only recently become an economic choice for mass production.

3D printing and rapid prototyping may seem like similar processes, but a few crucial differences exist between them. 3D printers manufacture items by turning digital 3D models into objects. Unlike subtractive processes like CNC, 3D printing builds objects by adding material from a print head, nozzle, and other methods, allowing to precisely control the number of resources spent on prototyping. To put it another way, 3D printers can create something out of nothing.

Rapid prototyping is also an additive process, but it uses special materials such as photopolymers, thermoplastics, and metals to fabricate objects much faster than traditional prototyping methods. There are four major types of rapid prototyping, which we discuss below.

What are 3D-Printed Prototypes Used For?

3D prototypes allow manufacturers to test new ideas and gauge performance before sending parts to mass production. Prototyping offers the flexibility to create multiple models, allowing you to experiment with a number of different builds at once. Because 3D-printed prototypes work for both visual and functional testing, they’re wildly popular among manufacturers who are testing new ideas.

SLA 3d printed parts

Selecting the Best Rapid Prototyping Process for Your Project

Understanding the different types of rapid prototyping will help you decide the best process for your needs. Manufacturers rely on four main types of prototyping:

Each of these processes uses a versatile range of materials. PolyJet and SLA processes operate with all kinds of photopolymers, FDM uses thermoplastics such as nylon and acrylonitrile styrene acrylate, and DMLS works with metals ranging from aluminum to titanium.

3D Prototyping at APM

Advanced Prototype Molding will work with you to determine the best 3D-printed prototyping process for your needs. We’re experts in the industry, and we can’t wait to see what we’ll work on next.

For more information on 3D printing, rapid prototyping, and how you can use these processes to make the most of your product testing, contact us, and request a quote today.

A team of students in Singapore has crafted Asia’s first 3D printed “urban solar electric car prototype.

The car took over a year to build and contains as many as 150 parts that were 3D printed. The goal of the car, called the NTU Venture (NV) 8, is to offer superior fuel efficiency standards while amplifying internal space for comfort.

Ilmi Bin Abdul Wahab, a fourth-year computer engineering student at Nanyang Technological University who led the development of NV8, said of the design, “Despite being an urban concept car, it is no slouch and can reach a top speed of 60 kilometers per hour while maintaining low-energy consumption.”

The car, mounted on a carbon fiber single-shell chassis, is slated to participate in the Shell Eco-marathon Asia race hosted in Manila, the Philippines later this month.

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