Rapid Prototyping Technology, also called Rapid Forming Technology, (RAPID PROTOTYPING abbreviated as RP technology); (called RP prototype in the automotive application industry.
RP technology is integrated and developed on the basis of modern CAD/CAM technology, laser technology, computer numerical control technology, precision servo drive technology and new material technology. Different types of rapid prototyping systems have different forming principles and system characteristics due to the different forming materials used. However, the basic principle is the same, that is, “layered manufacturing, layer by layer superposition”, similar to the mathematical integration process. Figuratively speaking, the rapid prototyping system is like a “three-dimensional printer”.
It can accept product design (CAD) data directly without preparing any molds, tools and fixtures, and quickly manufacture prototypes, molds or models of new products. Therefore, the application of RP technology can greatly shorten the development cycle of new products, reduce development costs and improve development quality. This is the revolutionary significance of RP technology to the manufacturing industry, from the traditional “removal method” to today’s “growth method”, and from manufacturing with mold to manufacturing without mold.
RP technology disassembles the complex three-dimensional processing of a solid into a series of layers, which greatly reduces the processing difficulty and has the following characteristics.
(1) The rapidity of the whole process of molding, which is suitable for the modern intense product market.
(2) The possibility of manufacturing three-dimensional entities of any complex shape.
(3) Directly driven by CAD model to achieve a high degree of integration between design and manufacturing, whose intuitiveness and easy modification provide an excellent design environment for the perfect design of products.
(4) The molding process does not require special fixtures, molds and tools, which saves money and shortens the production cycle.
(5) The highly integrated nature of the technology is not only the inevitable product of modern science and technology development, but also the comprehensive application of them, with distinctive high-tech characteristics.
The above characteristics determine that RP technology is mainly suitable for new product development, rapid single-piece and small batch parts manufacturing, complex shape parts manufacturing, mold and model design and manufacturing, and also suitable for the manufacturing of difficult-to-machine materials, shape design inspection, assembly inspection and rapid inverse engineering, etc.
Figuratively speaking, rapid prototyping system is equivalent to a “three-dimensional printer”.
It allows for fast and direct production of single parts without any tools, molds or fixtures. Depending on the complexity of the part, the process generally takes 1 to 7 days. In other words, RP technology is a technology for fast and direct manufacturing of single parts.