Currently, the development of RP technology in China is mainly applied to the design validation and trial production of simulated samples for new product development (including product upgrades), which includes the entire development process from conceptual design (or modification design) to structural design, basic function evaluation, and simulation sample trial production.
For some products mainly made of plastic structures, small-batch trial production can be conducted, or some physical functional testing, assembly verification, actual appearance review can be carried out, and even a small batch of products can be assembled and put on the market to achieve the purpose of testing the waters.
The application of rapid prototyping is mainly reflected in the following aspects:
1. Design validation and functionality testing during the new product development process. RP technology can quickly convert the product's CAD model into a physical model, which facilitates the validation of the designer's design ideas and the product's structural rationality, assembly, and aesthetics, and any design problems can be identified and modified in a timely manner.
Rapid prototyping (RP) technology plays a crucial role in the design validation and functionality testing phase of new product development. By swiftly transforming a CAD model into a physical prototype, RP enables designers to validate their design concepts, assess the structural feasibility, assembly compatibility, and aesthetics of the proto mold products, prompting timely identification and modification of any design issues.
If traditional methods are used, multiple processes such as drawing, process design, and tooling and mold manufacturing are required, which leads to a long cycle and high cost. If production is carried out directly without design validation, any design errors can lead to significant losses.
By contrast, traditional methods of product development involve multiple processes like drawing, process design, and protomold manufacturing, leading to lengthy cycles and high costs. Moreover, bypassing design validation before production can result in substantial losses, as any design errors may go unnoticed until it's too late, further highlighting the value of using rapid prototyping technology to mitigate protomold costs and associated risks.
2. Checking the manufacturability and assembly feasibility, requesting quotations for supply, and advertising in the market. RP methods are used to inspect and design the manufacturability and assembly feasibility of complex systems with limited space, such as automobiles, satellites, and missiles, to greatly reduce the design and manufacturing difficulties of such systems. For complex parts that are difficult to determine, RP technology can be used for trial production to determine the best feasible process.
In addition, RP prototypes are an effective means of communication throughout the entire process from product design to commercialization. For instance, providing product samples to customers for marketing purposes, fast prototyping technology has become an approach for parallel engineering and agile manufacturing.
3. Direct production of single pieces, small batches, and special complex parts. For polymer parts, high-strength engineering plastics can be directly produced by rapid prototyping to meet usage requirements. For complex metal parts, they can be obtained through rapid casting or direct metal forming. This application has special significances for the aviation, aerospace, and national defense industries.
Rapid prototyping technology enables the direct production of single pieces, small batches, and intricate parts, addressing the specific requirements of different industries. Polymer parts can be manufactured using high-strength engineering plastics, while complex metal parts can be obtained through methods like rapid casting or direct metal forming, offering significant benefits especially for the aviation, aerospace, and national defense sectors that rely on metal prototyping capabilities.
4. Rapid mold making. Through various conversion technologies, RP prototypes can be transformed into various rapid molds, such as low melting point alloy molds, silicone molds, metal cold spray molds, and ceramic molds, for the production of medium to small batch parts, meeting the development trend of fast product upgrades and an increasing trend of small batches.
The application fields of rapid prototyping include almost all industries in the manufacturing field, and are also increasingly widely used in industries such as medical, ergonomics, and cultural heritage conservation.
The status of rapid prototyping technology applications in various industries is as follows:
1. Automobiles, motorcycles: design, modification, assembly testing of appearance and interior parts, trial production of engines and cylinder heads.
2. Home appliances: design of the appearance and structure of various home appliances, assembly testing and functional validation, market promotion, and mold making.
3. Communication products: product appearance and structure design, assembly testing, functional verification, and mold making.
4. Aviation, aerospace: direct production of special parts, trial production of turbine blades and components, trial production of engines and assembly testing.