Study shows that 80% of the production cost is determined at the design stage. Therefore, the design stage is of great importance to product cost control. Rapid prototyping constitutes an important part in the industrial design process. From the fully manual prototyping (hand sampling) to the semi-mechanical prototyping, then to the modern 3D printing of prototypes, the progress epitomes the technological progress of the modern manufacturing industry. Among them, though Rapid prototyping is an advanced supportive design technique, it doesn’t receive enough attention.
It has been proved th Rapid prototyping not only plays a very important role in product design decision, but is also an effective tool for protecting product information and marketing.
Now, let’s talk about the importance of Rapid prototyping from different stages of the industrial design process
- Design Optimization
Mechanical parts that are more focused on geometric shapes can be designed directly with the application of computer graphics. For products with curvy surfaces, such as small-sized household appliances, on the one hand, the reverse engineering technology can be leveraged for 3D mapping, to obtain the 3D modeling data. And, after adjustment, the 3D data obtained can be directly copied with the help of the computer-aided rapid prototyping technology. The benefits of this approach are more evident when designing artworks that feature varied curvy designs. Firstly, the designer directly creates the shape with materials such as sludge, and then parameterizes the prototype through a 3D scanning device to obtain the computer data of the original prototype, which is then copied to a rapid prototype, to greatly improve the design efficiency
- Design Discussion
During the product design process, discussion plays a very important role. Visualization is an important part in the expression of product design, as well as the cornerstone for design discussion. Modeling products quickly and efficiently is able to ensure a higher design efficiency within the same period of time. During the design creative stage, what is used the most is often the 2D expression based on drawings. However, in the middle and late stages, the design expression will be more specific, so a more intuitive prototype should be adopted as the subject of discussion. Compared with the 2D expression, the hand sample enjoys an irreplaceable advantage, because it is able to make the details of the product clearer and the visual perception of the product more intuitive. Since everyone in the design team is able to see these designs, obvious advantages are demonstrated in the coordination of teamwork among all members.
- Functional Test
Rapid prototyping is able to help with certain functional tests and simulate the final form of the product, including functions and curves, etc. Prototyping allows the designer to obtain the most intuitive understanding of the dynamic simulation and internal structure of the prototype. When materials with a certain strength are used, a functional prototype containing an internal structure can be made to verify whether the product structure is reasonable, whether the wall thickness meets the requirements, and whether the moving parts are smooth enough, etc. A prototype can also be used for aerodynamic testing. For example, in the design of fast-moving objects, such as cars, high-speed trains and spacecrafts, a 1:1 prototype can be made and placed into a wind tunnel for intuitive aerodynamics research.
- Cost Cut
A design defect that is identified with a CNY 1,000 worth of prototype may cause a huge loss of up to CNY 10 million to produce and test, if the product is put into production and launched into the market. Through hand sampling, the final shape, size, structure and color of the product can be obtained, or product ergonomic testing can be performed at a lower cost. Also, important product information, such as product volume and quality, can be predicted, which can effectively help with the control of the packaging, transportation and material costs during production. Also based on this, the sales price and profit of the product can be estimated. If the cost exceeds the assumptions at the beginning of design, adjustments can be made in a timely manner until the specified target range of cost is reached. Therefore, Rapid prototyping is an effective means for an enterprise to control the cost.
- Market Research
In a trade fair, the 2D display board or the 3D animation you show to your potential customers will not be as attractive as the prototype. The prototype can most intuitively indicate the shape, color, size, structure and function of the product. You can also use the rapid hand sampling technology to reproduce the prototypes in small batches, and then send them to different regions for investigation, so as to obtain differentiated survey data. The hand sampling technology is able to help predict the actual consumer mindset and application effects of the product before mass production.
Generally speaking, with the advancement of modern processing technologies, the Rapid prototyping technology is continuously improved with a declined cost. On such a basis, more attention should be paid to the role the rapid prototyping plays in the whole process of industrial design, to make full use of its advantages, thus improving design efficiency and reducing R&D risks.
Benefits of the 3D Printed Prototype:
- It takes only a few to tens of hours to finish the production of one or several prototypes, so the product development cycle can be reduced by more than 40%;
- There is no need for mold machining, or mold development. You can print prototypes directly and quickly, to greatly reduce product development costs;
- Dimensional accuracy is able to meet the requirements of industrial grade assembly. The dimensional accuracy of a plastic sample can reach up to ±0.1mm, while that of a metal sample can reach ±20μm;
- The plastic sample is made of the high-quality engineering plastic material, the nylon 12, which boasts such excellent properties as high strength, high toughness, as well as high resistance to wear, corrosion and temperature.
- Rapid prototypes are able to meet a wide range of demanding test requirements, such as wind tunnel testing (3,000rpm), water pressure and flow testing (10,000+ cycles);
- A variety of complex curves and special structures are available at one stroke.