Keys to Successful Rapid Prototyping

By Emmy Wolfe on

Successful rapid prototyping could be the difference between beating your competition to market or heading back to the drawing board. Lucky for you, one of our Application Engineers, Tommy DuPuy, shared some of his tips for successful rapid prototyping.

Watch the video below for our full on-demand webinar, followed by a Q&A section with our RP Services Representative, Kevin Billett.

There are four main factors that play into a “successful” rapid prototyping workflow. These factors are 1) technology knowledge, 2) application awareness, 3) access to equipment and materials and 4) design for additive manufacturing.

Technology Knowledge 

Not all printers are created equal. Each technology has different strengths and weaknesses. For example, parts printed by FDM printers tend to be more durable, meaning that they are ready for end-use applications. PolyJet printers on the other hand are better known for printing detail, making it a great choice for concept models. Understanding your technology is key to knowing the limitations and deciding if it is the right hardware for your product.  

Application Awareness 3D Printing Applications

What is the prototype going to be used for? Most likely it will fit into one of the four group types below:

  • Testing Prototype – Form testing, fit and assembly testing, functional testing, ergonomics testing
  • Marketing Prototype – Focus groups, sales and marketing models, graphic design & packaging, communication tools
  • Tooling Prototype – Vacuum forming, plastic injection molding, rapid tooling, metal forming
  • Manufacturing Prototype – Jigs & fixtures, transportation, inserts, production line testing 

These groups focus on a different applications. For example, prototypes used for marketing purposes will need more emphasis on aesthetics and how you want your end-product to look. But, if your prototype is for testing, you need to make sure it has the strength and functionality of what you want the end-product to act as.

Access to Equipment and Materials 

3D printing materialsOnce you have figured out what group your application fits into, you then must decide the type of material you want to use. The application drives materials. As we stated before, all printers are different and offer different materials, which can be better or worse for your application. Printers are also different in the way they build a part which also influences your end product. The printer and materials you have on hand may not always be sufficient for how you want your prototype to be, so it’s important to take stock before you start. 

Design for Additive Manufacturing Designing for Additive Manufacturing

And finally, before you start printing you want to make sure that you are designing for additive manufacturing. Leveraging technology for your specific applications can expedite the process, saving you time, money and even post processing.

All four of these play a critical role in the rapid prototyping process. If you are lacking in one or more of these areas, reach out to TriMech RP Services today! We have a range of 3D printing technologies, materials and services. Get a complete breakdown in our webinar.