The advantages of using 3D printing in the fast prototyping phase and more

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In the 3D printing setting, fast prototyping is a process that makes it possible to obtain the first physical model of the design.  


To do so, industrial prototyping uses Additive Manufacturing technologies. The aim is to produce design prototypes that are above all functional and can be used to improve existing applications and develop new projects. Let’s take a closer look at these aspects. 

 

Prototipazione rapida stampa 3D: Quali sono i vantaggi?

 

 

Focus on fast prototyping using 3D printing 

 

 

A prototype is the first physical reproduction of a concept or design: it is the first physical model fabricated to assess the aesthetic and functional aspects of an application. 

 

Fast prototyping makes it possible to fabricate the first model of an application quickly, using additive or subtractive technologies. Additive Manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, was originally developed for the rapid fabrication of prototypes for the industrial sector.  

 

Now, with the most modern industrial Additive Manufacturing systems, it is possible to manufacture whole production batches, thereby optimising processes. 

 

 

 

 

Fast prototyping technologies 

 

 

Prototipazione rapida stampa 3D

The fabrication of optimum functional parts calls for a thorough research phase. In order to be competitive on the market, companies have to optimise the product development process, by making all phases of it ever-faster. 

 

Fast prototyping plays a key role in this sense, as it makes it possible to produce test models far faster than by using traditional techniques. 

 

Fast prototyping technologies consist in additive, subtractive and fusion manufacturing. More specifically, for plastic objects additive manufacturing or 3D printing involves fabricating a model by adding material layer by layer, using specific technologies such as Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM), Selective Laser Sintering or SLS, Stereolithography (SLA), Multi-Jet Printing (MJP), Color-Jet Printing (CJP) and Smooth Curvature Printing (SCP).  

The most recently introduced technology is HP’s Multi Jet Fusion, which allows both prototyping and the production of individual finished parts. 

 

Subtractive manufacture, on the other hand, starts with a block of material and removes the superfluous, using technologies like milling, turning and drilling. 

 

 

Find out how to make production processes more efficient using Additive Manufacturing technology. Download our free guide!

 

 

 

Fusion, instead, consists in creating different prototypes starting from an initial model fabricated by additive manufacturing. A silicone rubber mould is created and filled with the final material.  

 

Fusion entails several steps and the creation of a mould, which makes it ideal for the manufacture of very large batches. 

 

 

 

 

3D printing prototyping in metal processing  

Le diverse tecnologie di Additive manufacturing  per la stampa 3D

 

Several Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies are used to process metal. Those most commonly used include: 
 

Selective Laser Melting (SLM): a technology that uses a laser beam to melt layers of metal powder to create three-dimensional objects. The laser melts the metal following a CAD model, in order to create complex, high-precision parts. 

 

Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS): Like SLM, DMLS systems also use a laser beam to melt and weld the metal powder. Unlike Selective Laser Melting technology, DMLS works with a preheated powder that is sintered, rather than being completely melted. 

Electron Beam Melting (EBM): A electron beam is used to melt and solidify the metal powder. The process takes place in a vacuum chamber and makes it possible to fabricate objects of various sizes. 
 

Binder Jetting: This technology involves the use of a binder that is sprayed onto a layer of metal powder. The binder binds the powder particles to solidify the material, layer by layer, to form the designed object. 

 

Directed Energy Deposition (DED): This technology uses a nozzle to deposit molten metal on a substrate. The material is melted using a laser or electron beam. This process makes it possible to add material to existing parts and to fabricate new objects. 
 

Laser Metal Deposition (LMD): Like Directed Energy Deposition systems, LMD uses a laser to melt primarily metal powders and secondarily metal wire, which is applied in layers to repair existing metal parts or create new ones. 

 

 

Why use Additive Manufacturing for fast prototyping?  

 

 

Choosing 3D printing, as a flexible technology that can be used throughout the lifecycle of a product, from development through to production, offers several advantages. Firstly, it allows the company to reduce the time-to-market and to test and alter prototypes quickly yet efficiently, to accelerate the manufacture of the finished product.  

 

That is not all, however, since Additive Manufacturing allows greater flexibility in terms of product design and customisation for many design types. 

 

These systems are able to implement on-demand production, by fabricating certain objects only when they are needed, thus avoiding stockpiling and over-production. Manufacture is based on an approach that reduces waste, storage costs and the need to forecast future demand.  

 

All this is possible because additive technologies afford for very quick and flexible production of customised objects, using a vast range of materials, including metals, without the need to generate large batches or set up dedicated production lines. 

 

This is why choosing 3D printing, as a fast prototyping technique, can be the best path to follow for companies that intend to accelerate the production process and obtain high-quality prototypes faster. However, this aspect, despite being extremely important, is not the only very significant one, since Additive Manufacturing is increasingly making its mark as an ideal solution for serial production, and combines several advantages, from fast fabrication to high product customisation. 

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