3D Prototyping: From Concept to Reality
Updated: May 29, 2018
Thinking is not enough to innovate. The only way to innovate is through building things. So prototyping plays a vital role in the creative process. Whether you are drawing out your ideas on a napkin or rendering a 3D model, you are creating a real representation. If you want to bring your creative thoughts into the realm of reality you need to foster your ideas into something tangible. A 3D prototype manifests your idea into a form that can be evaluated and improved.
What is 3D Prototyping?
3D prototyping lets engineers and designers create a three-dimensional scaled representation or physical model of a product. You can use a software program to create a model and then print it out using 3D printing technology. It’s a useful way to test the design for both form and function.
Before 3D prototyping, inventors had to painstakingly build the whole product even during the idea evaluation phase. It was time-consuming and resource intensive. Imagine the Wright brothers working on their planes. Every time they needed to improve the design, they had to physically calibrate everything on their model. There wasn’t a way to expedite the process. And their project was much simpler compared to what Airbus and Boeing perform today.
Yet the modern aircraft manufacturers are able to test out millions of parts in a short period of time. For example, they can use the 3D prototype of an airplane wing in an air tunnel or a simulation program. These companies are able to achieve faster results due to 3D prototyping.
Brief History of 3D Prototyping
Today computer-aided design (CAD) tools play an important role in 3D modeling. Herbert B. Voelcker is considered one of the early pioneers of this technology. In the 1970s, his solid-state modeling research first at the University of Rochester and then at Cornell University led to the creation of CAD design tools. Since then 3D modeling has improved with the introduction of 3D printing technology. Today creative individuals can create prototypes of toys, prosthetics, industrial parts and more using 3D technology.
Types of 3D Prototyping
You can choose various technologies to render your 3D prototypes depending on your needs.
3D printing is the most popular and inexpensive way to create physical models. You will be restricted to certain polymers and metals that are 3D printer friendly, however, the 3D printing technology is constantly improving, and we can expect to have more options for materials in a near future.
Enterprises use more complex tools like CNC machines and injection molding systems to create 3D prototypes. These processes can be more expensive and time-consuming, but due to its level of precision, it may be the best option for your prototype.
Benefits of 3D Prototyping
3D prototyping gives engineers and designers more options. Here are some of the benefits:
· Fast Proof-of-Concept: You can explore and evaluate your ideas quickly, without the need of going through the rigorous process of building the actual product for every idea or concept.
· Iterative Improvement: You can cycle through implementation, testing, and feedback until you get a satisfactory design.
· Better Collaboration: Ideas are difficult to convey to others. 3D prototypes provide a better way of conveying information. It helps with collaborative work.
· Economical: Building a full-scale product or system is expensive. 3D prototyping allows teams to play around with multiple ideas without investing in expensive full-scale models.
3D prototyping is a great way to test your ideas. At EPIC Research & Development, we believe in exploring creative impulses. Our engineers and designers are knowledgeable about various industries and ready to help you. Contact us today.
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