3D Printing – Revolutionizing Rapid Prototyping

3d printing

In the early 1980s, the first 3D printer was used by Nagoya Municipal Industrial Research to create a prototype. Since then, the revolutionary abilities of 3D printing for rapid prototyping have become more and more realistic. Today, 3D printing technology has made rapid prototyping easier and more accessible for entrepreneurs and inventors than ever before.

What is rapid prototyping?

Rapid prototyping is a key component of the design and manufacturing phase. Based on the fabrication of a scaled model of a piece of equipment or part to see whether or not the prototype could function effectively at full size, rapid prototyping has long been regarded as a necessary step in the creation process. However, rapid prototyping has also garnered the reputation as a procedure that is expensive and time consuming for small businesses. However, with the advent of 3D printing, rapid prototyping has been revolutionized from a procedure that takes months’ worth of work to one that can be dreamed up, sketched, and created all in the same day.

How 3D Printers Have Changed the Prototyping Process

Besides the timesaving benefits of a 3D printing for rapid prototyping mentioned above, 3D printing also provides small businesses with a more cost-effective option of creating scaled models. While 3D printers were unaffordable for the average person when they were first introduced to the market, today, prices have declined significantly so that it’s possible to buy a fully capable 3D printing machine for under $4,000 – rumor has it than a $100 3D printer is even soon to be released. While 3D printers are certainly not the current be-all-end-all of rapid prototyping (for they are somewhat limited in their capabilities, only able to make smaller parts and being limited in materials), they do offer some major benefits including that:

  • 3D printers are generally regarded as easy to use;
  • 3D printers have lower upfront and maintenance costs;
  • 3D printers can be used in an office; and
  • 3D printers use ABS filament for prototyping.

Unlike other rapid prototyping machines, creating a prototype sans specific training is made possible by 3D printing.

The Use of ABS Filament for Prototyping

Plastic filaments are the basis for all 3D printing machines. While there are many different types of filaments, ABS filament is generally regarded as one of the best in the industry. Standing for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, ABS is a petroleum based plastic filament that is known for its flexible and malleable nature. Because of this, ABS is often said to be easier to work with than PLA and other filament types. ABS also has a higher temperature resistance than does PLA, making it a preferred plastic type specifically for prototyping and final design.

According to Gizmo Dorks, an ABS filament supplier, “ABS plastic is used in appliances, toys and vehicle bumpers, among other everyday items” They also state that because “ABS is impact resistant and lightweight which is why lego blocks are made from the same material.” The fact that ABS filament and plastics are so durable and resistant to harsh conditions makes it the go-to material for prototyping products and replacement parts.

How realistic is 3D printing for the average small businessman or consumer?

For innovators, 3D printing is an amazing type of technology that has given way to the ability to create a tangible impression of an idea quickly and efficiently. New inventions and products can quickly be explored and turned into reality, and all types of communities – ranging from technology to art-based businesses and organizations – now have the ability to turn thoughts into something that can be held in the hand. Essentially, 3D printing saves time, money, and energy, and provides a realistic avenue for creation to those with big ideas.

Sources

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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