Congratulations, you just finished designing your CAD model! Now, what’s the next step? Prototyping! It’s the next phase in the design cycle that helps you mitigate and reduce errors and issues. Prototyping allows you to test your model for functionality and design features. It has become more affordable and accessible as this trend continues at a non-linear rate. This phase decreases the time to market and increases productivity. Newer enhancements offer a more functional prototype and ability to rapid manufacture. Let’s review several things that you can leverage today to help make your prototypes in an efficient and affordable way.
Rapid Prototyping: The Early Years
I remember the early days of rapid prototyping. When I was in high school, I designed several radio controlled car chassis and architectural models for competition. I experienced firsthand 3D printing using Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Stereolithography (SL) and Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technologies. It was always amazing to have my models in a matter of hours and arrive at the competitions with fully designed cars and architectural models. Those truly were the early days of public access to instant fabrication. Nowadays, with the variety of 3D printing technologies, it’s easier than ever to 3D print in plastic or even metal. However, not all designers have access to a 3D printer, luckily there are other tools and services available to help create end-use parts or prototypes.
|This is an example of a prototyped remote control chassis, body, gearbox, and suspension|
TriMech Rapid Prototyping Services
TriMech Rapid Prototyping Services offers consultative printing access to the latest technologies. Consultation helps you ensure you’re being paired with the proper technology. We will even make recommendations to your design, dependent on the type of manufacturing process the design will ultimately see, to help your idea be as successful as possible. TriMech offers a solution and a true partnership to help get your product out of the gates with a higher likelihood of success.
TriMech offers the latest printing in FDM, PolyJet, Metal, SL, SLS, direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) and Multi Jet Fusion (MJF). Yeah, that’s a lot of acronyms, but rest easy- we work with you to ensure that the prototype is done with your intent in mind. This will help guide you in the direction of the correct technology for your prototype.
TriMech also offers 3-4 axis computer numerical control (CNC) machining in small batches. Additionally, we help with castings and injection molding. The value added here is expertise in a wide range of fields, that will not just ensure you can draw the 3D model, but make the design work.
3D scanning has really taken off in the last few years. Now, it is easier to take a complex one-off and reverse-engineer models, using the latest in Artec scanning hardware and software, and Geomagic for SOLIDWORKS. But, if you don’t own these products and you’re looking to have us help produce a usable solid model, TriMech can scan and help reverse engineer the CAD model as the principal deliverable to your process.
3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace is an online powerhouse that packs a dense range of service providers that integrate seamlessly with your design process. The 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace offers 3D printing, CNC machining, injection molding, laser cutting, sheet metal and other forms of fabrication. This online database allows you to filter your search based on the criteria that matter to your workflow. There are several modes that will pair you with the correct partner, and you can also search for fabricators that are geographically beneficial to you.
In addition, the Marketplace offers tens of millions of standard components in an intelligently managed and searchable online database. Why remodel the standard off-the-shelf components if you don’t need to do rework? Well, this should improve your productivity, giving you access to robustly modeled CAD files.
Be sure to check out the add-in for SOLIDWORKS as well. You can now interact directly with these platforms.
SOLIDWORKS Extended Reality
It truly is an exciting time, and also, somewhat scary depending on what your outlook on the software evolution may be. The 2019 release of SOLIDWORKS gave us a lot of great new features, one of which is extended reality. This is a newer technology you may have seen in your kids’ games with virtual reality headsets. Now, imagine an immersive experience like that but for your prospects, or possibly something that you could take to a trade show and really impress your clientele. You could show them a jaw-dropping environment that is not even real, it’s just virtual reality that is more interactive through the headset. I would recommend checking out a variety of headsets, some of which support six degrees of freedom so you can interact with the environment, not just look, but actually walk through an environment, open doors, press buttons, etc.!
You may think extended reality is just for customers looking to do the latest high-end renders, but that’s not the case at all. I have been fielding more questions from customers looking to use extended reality in manufacturing settings. Having worked at an automotive assembly plant, extended reality has great benefits for process planning, ability to better simulate motion and paths for creation and assembly process as well.
There’s no question that with time, the price to get a prototype is reducing. These are just three of the latest industry offerings that will possibly make you a more productive designer.
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