Prototyping is a very important stage in product development. People have already known that, but how an engineer think and do in prototyping process? The answers are as follows.
Most of time, we make a prototype for simply function checking, or just want to look the shape of the design, so we don’t need end-product materials to make a prototype because of cost concern. ABS material is universally chosen to alternate most of materials , such as metal and silicone.
However, prototype need to be test in a harsh environment sometimes, such as high temperature so that we can know how it work in such an environment. Then we need to know how to choose the right materials and how to make the prototypes.
If we need a high temperature resistant prototype, the PPS material is a good choice which can withstand 300 Celsius, but if you need that the prototype is transparent as well, PC and acrylic are preferred.
If the materials have to be end-product materials so that we can see how the end-product look like. We have such advices as an prototype manufacturer.
Wear resistant product prototype: POM or PA is a good choice.
High toughness product prototype: PA or PP
Transparent product prototype: PMMA (acrylic), transparent ABS, transparent PC and other materials can be chosen. The prototype made of these materials is highly transparent through polishing and achieves the same effect as the end product.
Determine processing method
CNC is a widely used in prototype manufacturing in China before the 3d printing prevail. It is mainly used for plastic and an alternate of metal materials. The materials are carved and milled on the CNC machines, which is almost the only way to make prototypes. However, CNC prototyping still have its place in the market, for the strength of the ABS material is higher than that of 3d printing and the surface would be more pretty after finished.
3D printing is an additive manufacturing technology. 3D printing is an additive process whereby layers of material are built up to create a 3D part. This is the opposite of subtractive manufacturing processes, where a final design is cut from a larger block of material. As a result, 3D printing creates less material wastage. 3D printing includes SLA, SLS, SLM, FDM and other technologies, and SLA technology materials are mostly resins; The materials used in SLS technology are wax powder and plastic powder; FDM is generally made of thermoplastic materials, such as wax, ABS, nylon, etc.
Vacuum Casting is an extremely adaptable manufacturing process capable of mimicking the injection molding to produce complex parts in polyurethane resins and cast nylon. The best choice for low volume production.
It is an extremely adaptable manufacturing process capable of mimicking the injection molding to produce complex parts in polyurethane resins and cast nylon. Since soft materials such as silicone and rubber cannot be manufactured by CNC.
To sum up, there are many way and materials to choose for your prototype, choose the right one is critical for product development.