Simply put, rapid prototyping is group of techniques used to quickly create a scale model of a physical assembly, using a 3-D-computer-aided design (CAD) data.
It’s a step beyond the already-useful CAD design model, but since it’s a relatively new concept (developed initially in the early 1970’s) with various interlocking parts and pieces (including 3-D printing, fused deposition modeling, solid ground curing, just to name a few), it can be a daunting process to consider implementing, especially if your business isn’t a new one.
But here are some potential benefits of using rapid prototyping, and why it might be a good fit for your manufacturing company.
In the past, product designers have had a difficult time conveying their exact vision to those responsible for manufacturing those ideas into a physical form.
But rapid prototyping can put an end to that. Thanks to this new technology, a designer can deliver a fully-realized version of the product, which is great not just for those who need to figure out how to make it, but to investors and the consumer as well.
If that’s a problem your designers are having, rapid prototyping might provide exactly the tools you need.
Even in the final stages of product development, a new design is going to be changing constantly. The process of mapping out and implementing those changes in the design can not only be difficult, they can be slow to carry out.
With the rapid prototyping model, a designer can implement changes instantly, creating new iterations of the product in seconds. Think about how revolutionary that idea is, and then consider if you need this technology for your business. It’s difficult to think of a product line that couldn’t benefit from this streamlined alteration process.
Which brings us to our next selling point for rapid prototyping: Saving money and time. Which are often the same thing.
The less waste you have in refining and tweaking a product, the less time it’s going to take to do so, and the less money it will cost. That’s time and money that could be used for marketing, supply chain reinforcement, warehousing, office space, any number of other areas that are vital for a company’s survival and success.
Can you think of a business that doesn’t need to save time and money? Does yours?
If you’re planning on multiple iterations of what you’ve designed and what you’re manufacturing, rapid prototyping can streamline that process, as well.
As we discussed earlier, making changes is an infinitely easier process through RP technology, and so is customizing. Do you have different markets or clients that you’re aiming a version of your product towards?
How great would it be to make those different adjustments in seconds and deliver different styles and designs of the same basic product to whatever market you see opportunity in?
It’s one of the key advantages of the rapid prototyping system.
Even with a highly skilled design team and the best concept, there are bound to be some major or minor stumbling points during a product’s design. There will be flaws in the design that no one could have foreseen, regardless of their skill level.
Rapid prototyping allows you to create a version of the product that resembles the actual physical object that, ideally, you’ll be able to spot any possible issues before the product itself actually exists.
Think of the time, money and potential embarrassment that could save your business.
For more on how rapid prototyping can help your business, download our e-book “Product Prototyping: Getting It Right the First Time.”