Technique 47

Rapid Prototyping

Make a fast 3D model of your solution to explore its viability.


Rapid prototyping is a design and communication technique that quickly (in less than a few days) creates a three-dimensional model of a new innovation or product design. When NASCAR race teams have to make fast design changes, they use rapid prototyping to identify potential production pitfalls. The University of Tennessee Anthropological Research facility uses rapid prototyping to recreate skeletal remains for forensic reconstruction.

The value of rapid prototyping comes in when you need to dramatically reduce the time and expense involved in making a model of your innovation so it can be assessed and optimized by designers and manufacturing engineers before it goes into production. Rapid prototypes are also used by marketing and sales professionals to test and anticipate customer reactions.

Gaining from this technique requires skill with computer aided design (CAD) software, as well as the availability of a rapid prototyping machine (Exhibit 47.1). Therefore, you may need the help of someone who is versed and knowledgeable in this arena and its associated technologies.

Exhibit 47.1 3D Systems' Viper Pro SLA. System builds accurate and durable parts quickly through an additive manufacturing process.

Rapid prototyping is about creating a better, faster, less expensive and more precise ...

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