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A Catalog of Rapid Prototyping Techniques

by Nice Rapid | Mar 04,2021 | Rapid Prototyping

The creation of a product or a part from scratch requires engineering, design, and testing. A long time ago, this process was slow, expensive and taxing. As technology evolves, this whole system has improved for the better. Rapid prototyping is living evidence of this. This is the way most of everything is created these days. With multiple methods used to bring forth the most innovate ideas.

Most of this creative process takes place using specialized software, CAM and CAD models have replaced drawing boards for good. The same thing happened with the tooling process of a prototype. These days you need a specialized sculptor that knows about materials to get things done. You can create a prototype out with all the specs of your idea using 3D printing technology in a matter of moments. If you are wondering just this happens, we can take a quick glance at all the rapid prototyping techniques available right now. So, let's get started:

Stereolithography

This rapid prototyping technique is also known as SAL or Vat Photopolymerization. It's regarded as one of the cheapest and fastest prototyping technologies available and incredibly well suited for small scale projects. It works via a 3D printer by using a photosensitive liquid that places each layer of the prototype in place and solidifies the finished result using ultra-UV lights.

Selective Laser Sintering

Also known as SLS, this technique is often used to work with plastic resins and metal alike. The basis to get the process rolling is powder-based compounds as the base to get the prototype done. It also builds the products using layer by layer placement. The finished products are not as durable as other techniques, and the prototype will probably require some extra tooling to get better results. 

Fused Deposition Modelling

Also known as FDM or Material Jetting, this technique is the primary choice of many desktop 3D printed projects. The prototype is created using plastic filaments treated with heat to a melting point. As with the other techniques, the process is handled on a layer-by-layer basis creating a build that is as durable as the proposed use we have for it. While it is possible to achieve large designs, this technique is better suited for smaller prototypes. 

Selective Laser Melting

SLM or Powder Bed Fusion is the technique of choice for industrial projects such as highly resistant builds for high tolerance parts. These nuts and bolts have a high demand in various industries such as automotive, aeronautics, military and medical. The process can help us test our prototypes' resistance by using a wide range of materials from plastic to metal. The prototype method by itself is a complex mix of computer software and high powered laser print techniques. 

Laminated Object Manufacturing

Also known as LOM or Sheet Lamination, it's probably one of the less refined prototyping methods, but one that is highly suitable to especially controlled conditions. It works by using laser technology or cutting tools to create a prototype made out of tin. This system is mostly used to create visual prototypes, given the fragility of the raw material used to work with.

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