The sectors making use of prototypists are many and varied. Thus, the fields of medicine, electronics, aerospace and automobiles are among those requiring the manufacturing of prototypes and plastic parts. These are the main reasons for using rapid prototyping:
The industrial aspect of rapid prototyping
The manufacturing of plastic prototypes can be suitable for the development phases, with the aim of industrialising a product. We distinguish between two main applications:
- Firstly, rapid prototyping can be used to perform a visual validation.. The latter makes it possible, in particular, to verify the geometry and the volume of the parts. The most appropriate technologies for this phase are so-called additive technologies. These are mainly 3D printing and stereolithography.
- Secondly, plastic prototyping allows the functional elements of the parts to be validated in addition to the visual elements. Thus, it is used to check the mechanical parameters of the parts. In fact, technologies such as silicone moulding and 3D plastic machining make it possible to obtain prototypes that are almost identical to the series part. Therefore, it is possible to use these plastic prototypes to test a part under real conditions.
The marketing and sales aspects of rapid prototyping
R&D departments are not the only ones requiring the production of small series of plastic parts and plastic prototypes. In fact, rapid prototyping is also of great interest to the marketing and sales departments.
- Marketing field: parts obtained by 3D plastic machining and silicone vacuum casting are used for the production of technical and promotional catalogues. These technologies allow the manufacture of prototypes that are very close to injected parts visually. They are therefore relevant for the production of presentation models.
- Sales field: the manufacturing of small series of plastic parts can be used for a pre-production phase. The parts can be used for the distribution of a product as well as its promotion, for example.
In conclusion, rapid prototyping technologies allow the visual and functional validation of parts before launching the industrialisation phases. In addition, they are used to create presentations for sales and marketing purposes.