Simplify Product Design with Rapid 3D Prototypingby James Rawstron on April 18, 2017 From News And Comment, Technology
A significant challenge facing product designers is figuring out how to effectively evaluate a design beyond its digital model. To elicit timely feedback and present a product’s potential to stakeholders, they need to be able to take a design from concept to tangible object in a quick and cost-effective way.
One of the best ways to accomplish this objective is by using a rapid 3D prototyping process. This approach combines 3D CAD models and additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing) to quickly produce precise and functioning prototypes. In this way, it provides 3D visualization for digitally rendered items, allowing designers to test both form and function before the product is mass produced.
One of the main benefits of rapid prototyping is its ability to simplify and streamline the product design process. It achieves this by allowing designers to:
Make instant changes
With a tangible object, designers can ask for feedback and immediately incorporate changes into the digital file. This allows them to make countless iterations with unprecedented ease, ensuring an optimal final product.
Identify flaws early
Rapid prototyping reveals flaws very early on in the process – well before the product is approved for production. Designers can use materials that are very similar to those of the final product, so physical testing can be part of the iterative design process at this phase of development.
There are no special tools necessary to make changes and implement customized design concepts. To make adjustments, designers simply tweak the CAD model – the rest of the process remains unchanged.
Save time and money
Time and money add complexity to the product design process; saving them simplifies it. With rapid 3D prototyping, molds, patterns, and tools are developed with substantially less time and money. Also, waste is eliminated because additive manufacturing processes only print materials that are required to build the object.
The rapid 3D prototyping process for new product design is fairly straightforward. First, you’ll create a 3D printable model using computer-aided design methods or via a 3D scanner. From there, you’ll build the actual prototype using a 3D printer. As flaws are identified and various changes requested, you will make adjustments directly to the CAD file before printing a new iteration.
James Rawstron is a Senior Marketing Specialist at Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence North America, located in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Rawstron has 20 years of marketing communications experience in the software, high tech, industrial, advanced manufacturing machinery and medical device markets. He has written numerous articles for B2B publications, including blogs for a variety of industries. Prior to joining Hexagon, Rawstron served as a web marketing professional at IBM and a Marketing Manager at Vector Software. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and European History from Union College of Schenectady, New York.