Rapid prototyping is the process used to generate three-dimensional models that do not require any machining or tooling. Instead, rapid prototyping makes use of cutting edge technology that allows a physical object to be formed by adding a material layer by layer until the desired shape is achieved. This additive process is being used instead of building prototypes by cutting away material through machining which is subtractive.
Rapid prototyping allows more flexibility than machining because the even complex model designs does not suffer any limitations during its production. Rapid prototyping enables engineers and product designers to generate three dimensional models quickly and accurately.
Different rapid prototyping systems make use of a variety of materials to create different three dimensional objects. A common material used is prototyping wax. This material is usually ideal when engineers and designers require small quantities of casting parts to create intricate patterns without the use of tooling.
Prototyping wax can also be used together with other types of prototyping materials in order to make the resulting prototype work better with different casting methods that make use of metals as well as non-metals. Combining prototyping wax with other materials to create the models will also be ideal for low-temperature furnaces and vacuum plaster casting methods.
A rapid prototyping modeling process utilizing prototyping wax to create a wax pattern can be advantageous in some ways. Forming and de-waxing a shell mold made from prototyping wax can be done quite rapidly using normal casting procedures. Using this type material simplifies in a way the model-making process that helps you to get your products to be developed and be released in the market faster.
Aside from prototyping waxes, there are also other materials being used for a number of rapid prototyping processes. One such material is thermoplastics. If product engineers are looking forward in creating durable prototype parts that might require aggressive functional testing, thermoplastics can be the ideal material to use for rapid prototyping. Thermoplastic materials have effective heat and chemical resisting properties that make them the best choice for models that undergo aggressive product testing procedures.
Not only that, thermoplastics also provide excellent surface finish to prototype models. They are also machinable and weldable when required. Thermoplastics can also be joined mechanically or with the use of special adhesives. Other prototyping material choices available include powdered metals for injection molding, and for directly creating metal prototype parts, Polycarbonate and polyphenylsulfone materials for forming durable, high-strength, and functional prototypes that are to be used for testing and final design verification.