Additive Manufacturing for Prototyping
Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using additive processes, where an object is created by laying down successive layers of material. 3D printing is considered distinct from traditional machining techniques (subtractive processes) which mostly rely on the removal of material by drilling, cutting etc.
In the last couple of years the term 3D printing has become more known and the technology has reached a broader public. Still, most people haven’t even heard of the term while the technology has been in use for decades. Especially manufacturers have long used these printers in their design process to create prototypes for traditional manufacturing and research purposes. Using 3D printers for these purposes is called rapid prototyping.
Rapid prototyping is a conventional method that has been used by automotive and aircraft industries for years. In general, 3D printers are compact and smaller than RP machines. They are ideal for use in offices. They use less energy and take less space. They are designed for low volume reproduction of real objects made of nylon or other plastics. That also means 3D printers make smaller parts. Rapid prototyping machines have build chambers at least 10 inches on a side, a 3D printer has less than 8 inches on a side. However a 3D printer is capable of all the functions of rapid prototyping machine such as verifying and validating design, or creating a prototype.
Personal 3D printing, or domestic 3D printing is mainly for hobbyists and enthusiasts, and really started growing in 2011. Because of rapid development within this new market, printers are getting cheaper and cheaper. This puts 3D printers into more and more hands. However, owning a 3D printer is not optional or practical for everyone:
- You may have budget restrictions,
- You may not have all the available space,
- You may be a student who can not justify the cost or space of having a dedicated 3D printer around for the few times you would need tangible outputs for projects,
- You may have baby or child in the home where the fumes/sound/space requirements may not grant you the luxury of owning your own 3D printer just yet
… but you may still have that life-changing idea that could benefit from a tangible prototype for showcasing…
This is where 3D POD can help. Contact us, and we’ll be able to assist. Allow us to be part of your success journey; we are a helpful, and friendly bunch 🙂