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A Look at How Rapid Prototyping has Transformed Product Development Processes

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Rapid Prototyping for Product Development Process
The use of rapid prototyping has moved beyond just development of prototype to production quality functional parts. This is all possible because of advancements in additive manufacturing technologies that create the part by printing materials like plastics and metals layer by layer directly from a digital CAD model. The common available additive manufacturing techniques are as below:

• Stereolithography (SLA)
• Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
• Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)
• Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
• Polyjet

Let’s have a look at how these techniques have transformed product development processes across major industry verticals:

Aircraft Wings

Aerospace industry is one of the early adopters of rapid prototyping technology. World’s reputed aircraft development company, Boeing utilizes 3D printing to build parts for the 777 Dreamliner project. However, 3D printing has its limitations. It cannot be used to develop large objects, as with increase in the object size, the possibility of internal stress built up increases further. Yet, BAE systems has developed a technique which involves making 3D printed metal parts stronger by striking them with ultrasonic tool with each printed layer. This releases the stresses from the part and hence makes it possible to develop large parts such as aircraft wings.

Vehicles and Houses

The use of 3D printing technique is also being tested to print entire vehicles and even houses. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, researchers have developed a printer called BAAM (Big Area Additive Manufacturing) that is capable of printing entire car. The system makes use of both 3D printing and CNC routing to develop the Strati car.

To cater to the housing crisis, researchers have also developed a printer that can print entire houses utilizing materials that are easily available in third-world countries. The house is printed by layers of cement and glass fiber mixture to develop a composite structure that is strong enough to withstand loads efficiently.

Jet Engines

The use of 3D printing is also seen in the development of jet engines that consist of complex parts which are often difficult to manufacture. A leading manufacturer of jet engines, GE is also developing 3D printed parts for the GE9X engine for Boeing’s new passenger jet. Recently, Autodesk and Stratasys also collaborated and developed a turbo-prop engine using 3D printing.
Irrespective of what the need of a prototype can be; whether for concept evaluation or functional testing, rapid prototyping will always need CAD model to perform the printing operation.

We at CAD Outsourcing Services help in accomplishing prototyping objectives by developing accurate CAD models that can be utilized for 3D printing.

Nikunj Patel
About the Author: is a design engineer working with CAD Outsourcing Services for the past 4 years. He loves designing specialized industrial equipments and can always be found in the lab discussing, brainstorming & tweaking designs. He has also worked on architectural projects taking interest in every aspect of design & analysis.

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