In the Beginning, is the Idea, then the Development of Prototypes, then the Investor.
Prototypes are generally test models in the technical field for products or components that are subsequently to be mass-produced. In the field of invention, science, and research, prototypes are often the first steppingstone to founding your own company and then to find investors with the idea of further developing the company and producing prototypes.
The development of prototypes costs a lot of money in addition to know-how and manpower. This will have to be earned in the future, while the prototype or prototypes will initially only generate costs. For investors, a convincing business plan is key to success at this stage. Today, on the threshold of the new decade, rapid prototyping in 3D printing is topping the current prototype production. The procedure to produce prototypes is divided into three phases: creation, review session and further development. The addition Rapid makes it clear that the development speed has a high priority in this process of prototyping.
Prototype Production - Putting an Invention into Practice and Founding a Company
Today, there are several modern processes for the fast and cost-effective production of prototypes that can be used to efficiently design the entire process of product creation. Rapid prototyping in 3D printing is a widely used manufacturing process. The innovative young entrepreneur or business founder has an idea right up to the vision and the know-how for invention and development; however, he lacks the necessary capital to produce prototypes profitably. At this point, investors are in demand who are so convinced of the prototype's prospects of success that they are investing in further development and future series production. There are many possibilities for this type of commitment; they range right up to company participation with decision-making authority over the prototypes and subsequent production readiness.
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Rapid Prototyping - Prototypes in 3D printing
The term has become firmly established today as a headline for many applications in 3D printing, so to speak. Manufacturing methods with CNC-controlled machines are also part of RP technology. In its origins, RP was the rapid production of prototypes and models. Today, terms such as rapid tooling are also subsumed under this heading as the rapid production of tools, or rapid manufacturing as the rapid production of small batches and individual pieces.
Common RP Manufacturing Processes
- 3D powder printing in which many layers of polymer gypsum, tenths of a millimeter thick, are bonded together in full color. The full color makes this 3D print a visually attractive display or exhibition model.
- Fused Deposition Modeling, abbreviated to FDM - The object is constructed from molten plastic by an extruder as the machine for producing moldings from thermoplastic material drop by drop. FDM is suitable for robust plastic models and is preferred by do-it-yourselfers and hobbyists.
- Stereolithography, abbreviated SLA - Liquid synthetic resin is cured with a laser. SLA makes accurate and detailed models possible; in addition, SLA is used for the manufacture of customized products.
- PolyJet - Small and minute drops of a photosensitive polymer are applied to a work platform by push-button. A UV laser ensures the immediate curing process. The combination of several materials is possible already or during printing. This RP process offers the possibility of extremely realistic prototypes.
- Selective Laser Sintering SLS and Selective Laser Melting SLM - A powerful laser is used to melt the powdery starting material in form. Both SLS and SLM are ideally suited to produce functional models or small series, as well as for the processing of metals.
- Contour Crafting - Construction of a structure such as a house or building using computer-aided machinery. The mode of operation is comparable to the FDM process, but with the material concrete and larger installation space.
- Laminated Object Modelling - Here thin layers of paper are cut into shape and glued together. This allows color printing similar to the ColorJet process.
- Electron beam melting - The process is comparable to selective laser melting. The only exception: instead of a laser, an electron source melts the metal powder into form.
- Laser Engineered Net Shaping or Laser Powder Forming - Metal powder is applied through a nozzle and directly melted by high-energy lasers at the predetermined location.
- Space Puzzle Molding - The aluminum tool as a mold is composed of several to many pieces, which are milled from a block.
Advantages of the RP Process
The way to prototypes, with its production time, is significantly accelerated, although depending on the object, size, and complexity, as well as the quality and printability of the 3D model. This speed makes it possible to use prototypes earlier and above all more often. Design errors are detected promptly and can be easily rectified. Another decisive advantage of the RP technology is the saving of waste compared to conventional processes such as turning, milling, grinding or machining. This saves costs and resources.
Prototyping in 3D printing in China - Within one day and on Demand
China, or more precisely the People's Republic of China, is about 27 times the size of Germany. Accordingly, the range of prototyping with the various RP processes offered there is comprehensive and varied. Digital communication with correspondence and communication as well as logistics make it possible for prototypes to be realized within a day in China. If the time difference between Central Europe and metropolises such as Beijing or Shanghai is considered, then at best no more than 24 hours elapse between order placement and order execution.