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Choosing a prototyping process

Developing a prototype quickly so that it can be fit-and-function tested can reduce the time it takes to get a product to market. “Prototype models help design teams make better informed decisions by obtaining invaluable data from the performance of, and reaction to, the prototypes,” according to a white paper on the subject from Proto Labs called, "Prototyping Process: Choosing the Best Process for Your Project."

Based on the results from testing and analysis, as well as customer feedback, designers can adjust designs, materials used, size, shape, assembly, color, manufacturability, strength and more. 

Many prototyping processes are available from which to choose, and the white paper explores the advantages and shortcomings of some of the major prototyping processes available today. The paper provides detailed process descriptions, considers their pros and cons, and explains the material properties of parts produced by each prototyping method. 

The rapid prototyping methods explored include: stereolithography (SLA), selective laser sintering (SLS), fused deposition modeling (FDM), 3-D printing, Poly-Jet (Pjet), CNC machining (subtractive machining), and rapid injection molding (RIM).

If still uncertain as to which process is the best fit for the application, the paper includes a decision tree that highlights key questions that designers must consider when choosing a prototyping process. Ultimately, the goal of this paper is to help the user select the best prototyping process for the product development process.

To read the entire paper, click here. A brief registration is required.

prototype cover 

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