Posted on: Dec 27, 2017, | By Tony, WayKen Project Manager
What is Rapid Prototyping?
RP technology is developed based on modern technologies include CAD & CAM, laser technology, computer numerical control (CNC), precision servo drive technology and new material technology. Rapid prototyping system is just like the "3D printer." We can call it “additive manufacturing”
CNC is shortening by Computer numerical control, serves as a program controlled automated machine tools. CNC technology is a combination of advanced technologies such as computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and NC technology. The three-dimensional data models can be made by cutting the entire piece of material in the CNC machine. Compared with “additive manufacturing”, CNC machining is more like “subtractive manufacturing.”
Rapid Tooling (RT), a new manufacturing technology based on rapid prototyping, is also being developed to shorten the development cycle of new products and provide the market with multi-varieties and small-batch products tailored to customers’ needs as early as possible. It has the advantages of a short cycle and low cost. At present, the more popular rapid manufacturing processes are as follows:
- Silicone rubber mold for vacuum casting
- Aluminum mold or epoxy mold for reaction injection molding (RIM)
- Aluminum and simple steel used for injection molding
Rapid prototyping as a comprehensive manufacturing service, it combines modern RP technology, traditional CNC machining technology, and rapid tooling technology. Its purpose is to provide design verification in a new product development phase, market evaluation, low volume trial production, and production solutions.
Even RP technology has not been widely used for a long time, it has a rapid development. Enterprises pay more and more attention to the value brought by rapid prototyping from product design and development to manufacturing.
Rapid Prototyping in Automotive R&D
RP&M technology is mostly applied to the trial stage of Automotive R&D. The trial samples can be used as visualization, design evaluations and interference examination of CAD digital models, even for functional tests. In addition, trial products allow users to better know the appearance and performance of products that not yet engaged in the mass production and then make an evaluation. The manufacturer can improve the products based on customer needs and market research. It creates favorable factors for sales and avoids the losses caused by blind production.
It has been proved that RP&M has advantages in product design optimization and shorten the product development cycle, it also helps cut the development cost, thus enhance the competitiveness of enterprises.
The importance of different stages of industrial design as below:
Product Design Optimization
The designer’s 2D or 3D data model is modeled directly by the model engineer with oil sludge and adjusting the details. Then get the parameters with the 3D scanning of the molds. The further design and improvement can be made on the basis of the original data. The next is manufacturing in rapid prototyping to get a more definite modeling program. As a result, design efficiency can be greatly improved.
In the process of product design, the discussion is very important. Visualization is an important part of product design expression, which is the cornerstone of design discussion. A fast and efficient building model can achieve higher design efficiency at the same time. In the design creative phase, from the 2D design sketch to the discussion of details, a more specific model has more clear looks and visual perception.
Size Verification and Function Test
In the engineering design stage, assembly performance of the rapid prototype parts can reflect the reasonableness of the structure size and the ease of installation. The final form of the simulation product includes dimension precision, function form, curved form, etc. It also can give a chance to verify the correctness of the installation process in physical form so as to find the problem and early solve it.
In order to achieve the various functions of a prototype, certain functional tests are needed. It includes Aerodynamic test, man-machine engineering, the mechanical properties, thermal properties, mechanical properties, electrical properties and the service life of the product and safety standard test.
The automobile R&D in the prototype trial and experimental stage mainly include as below:
- Data validation: to verify the correctness of body data;
- Performance test: to verify whether the parts and assembly can meet the design requirements and improve the design plan;
- Reliability test: to verify the strength and durability of the vehicle, including test field test, road test, wind tunnel test, collision test etc.
Reduce Cost Avoid Risk
It is very important to discover the defects in the product design process and correct them in time so as to avoid the subsequent production. The model making is an important and useful link.
Through the validation and testing of the trial phase, to avoid loss, reduce risk and take preventive measures for mold manufacturing interventions. At the same time, with the trial production of samples, the production process can be planned in advance to effectively control the material costs, packaging and transportation costs.
Compared with flat panels or 3D animations, models are more attractive in the trade fairs for potential customers. The simulation model can most directly indicate the product's shape, color, size, structure, function, and other information. Market research can also be conducted in the form of exhibitions or actual verification by the end users. Alternatively, rapid prototyping can be used to make small-batch models and send product models to different areas for investigation so as to obtain more market-oriented survey data. We can predict the actual effects of consumers before the products in mass production.