What is Rapid Prototyping?

Rapid prototyping is a product development method that utilizes turnkey manufacturing technologies to quickly produce multiple iterations of a component for testing and evaluation. In other words, it is a method of making parts as quickly as possible for hands-on reviews. 3D printing is most often chosen for rapid prototyping because of its affordable price point—typically between $5-50 for a prototype—and its quick turnaround time of 1-3 business days. Other common rapid prototyping processes besides 3D printing include CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, and rapid injection molding.

 

Speed and affordability are the key principles of rapid prototyping and allow multiple designs of a prototype to be manufactured at once, or one prototype to be revised and re-made in quick succession. These prototypes provide critical information that helps engineers make design decisions before moving to higher fidelity models for functional testing and production.

 

Rapid prototyping services can be used to test a full range of designs and materials since the usual financial and time risk is removed from the equation. This mitigates the risk that would occur from moving a project forward without enough information.

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