Posted by Kashyap Vyas on January 2nd, 2017
The market adoption of rapid prototyping technique for product development is increasingly on a rise. With its ability to quickly review designs and shorten the development time, rapid prototyping is now an integral part of the product development process for most mechanical industries. However, this technique can be further leveraged beyond just reviewing designs to expect better business benefits; and this is where best-in-class companies are heading to. Let’s look at the key benefits that rapid prototyping offers, if implemented across the all the product development stages.
During the conceptual design stages, even the complex designs look simpler, since the part is only evaluated for the look. But, gradually as the product develops, there are little details about the part that is to be added, to make the designs more detailed. Multiple iterations take most of the time in incorporating the exact design features. However, through rapid prototyping, need of performing multiple iterations are essentially removed resulting in reduced time for design development.
Alongside, quick enabled changes as per the received change orders and customers’ feedback, allows the designer to amend the designs and take quick decisions. Rapid Prototyping goes a step further than 3D CAD modeling and allows designers to realize their concepts through physical visualization and ease the design communication between designers and project stakeholders.
Prototyping methods vary according to the functional requirements and its intended purposes. For functional and performance testing and analysis, 3D CAD models when employed to the machine part having similar physical and geometric features, will enable the engineer to evaluate its functional performance without any expensive or destructive methods involving physical prototypes. Rapid prototyping embraces failure and delivers excellent opportunities to incorporate innovations. However, to avail the benefits, manufacturers should fail early, fast and often. With additive manufacturing processes time and costs are minimized as the requirement for developing molds and patterns is eliminated.
Furthermore, the same 3D models can deliver the purpose of examining the safety performance through Finite Element Methods in software. The concept of rapid prototyping has eliminated the creation of geometric data and then building a physical prototype for analysis and studying the manufacturing effects on the component.
Rapid prototyping is perceived as a tool to compress time-to-market the products in a constantly changing market. Apart from aiding designers and manufacturers, rapid prototyping allows the supplier to launch the products in market quicker than with the traditional practices. Quicker change accommodation and design development followed by additive manufacturing processes, allows the manufacturer to have sufficient time frame to launch the product in the market right at the pre-decided time. Manufacturers not actually concentrate on reducing the time to market, but they insist on squeezing relatively more products in the same time span which ultimately reduces the time-to-market per product. Thus, through rapid prototyping, launching a product in the market gives ease and delivers the outcomes efficiently.
Interestingly, a great deal of values comes from rapid prototyping in several stages right from conceptual designing to testing, manufacturing and finally in time to market the product. The concept provides both, the forward-looking designers to create new ideas through guidance and the users with proof of concepts by accommodating changes as per their feedback. Quick manufacturing decisions leads to suppressed time to market, allowing the manufacturer to commercialize the product right at the intended time. Thus, rapid prototyping leads to overall quick decisions at every stage and helps the designer and manufacturer evolve their ideas faster.
About Author: Kashyap Vyas is an Engineer at Hi-Tech and holds a Master’s degree in Thermal Engineering with several research papers to his credit. He covers CAD and CAE topics for the engineering industry. His contributions are primarily focused on encouraging manufacturers and suppliers to adopt virtual product development tools to build efficient products with reduced time-to-market.
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