X Rapid Technologies is a China-based rapid prototyping company that makes prototypes for products that are usually just developed or designed. Rapid prototyping is the most efficient and direct method of identifying defects, deficiencies, and drawbacks in a product to make targeted improvements until the flaws cannot be detected. At this point, it is usually necessary to conduct a small batch of trial production to find out the shortcomings to improve.

The design of the completed product generally cannot be perfect, or even unusable for direct production. As soon as a design has defects, it will be discarded, resulting in a waste of labor, materials, and time. In most countries including China, rapid prototyping is generally applied to make a small number of samples within a short production cycle. The cost of labor and material resources is lower. In this way, we are able to quickly identify and address any design limitations as well as provide a sufficient basis for the final mass production.

Why is rapid prototyping so crucial for the research and development of new products?

1. Check the appearance design 

The prototype is not only visible but also touchable. It is a very intuitive physical form to reflect the designer's ideas. 

Avoid "drawing out good-looking but not good-looking" drawbacks. Therefore, rapid prototyping is essential in the process of new product development.

2. Check the structural design 

Because the prototype can be assembled, it can visually reflect if the designed structure is reasonable or not and if it is difficult to assemble. Rapid prototyping makes it possible to discover problems and solve them.

3. Avoid the risk of making costly steel molds for mass production directly 

As the price of steel molds for mass manufacturing is very high, a relatively large mold usually costs hundreds of thousands or even millions. If the structure is not reasonable or other problems arise in making the steel mold, the loss is unimaginable. Prototyping production can avoid losses and reduce the related risk.

4. Help to launch new products much earlier 

As rapid prototyping is employed before mass production, the prototypes can be used to promote the new products beforehand. You can even sell some of them to occupy the market quickly!

What are the primary rapid prototyping types?

The four primary rapid prototyping types are CNC machining, vacuum casting, 3D printing, and reaction injection molding (RIM). 

1. CNC machining

CNC machining is a way of computer numerical control machining. In China, it is a common rapid prototyping way to make plastic and metal prototypes. Its high production accuracy, efficiency, and lower costs bring CNC machining a wide application in rapid prototyping.

2. Vacuum casting

Vacuum casting manufactures parts based on a silicone mold in a vacuum environment. The materials available are different series of PU, and the ready components can be ABS-like, PC-like, PMMA-like, soft-rubber-like, etc. 

3. 3D printing

3D printing may be the best-known way of rapid prototyping. It prints complex objects layer by layer. As 3D printing technology develops very fast, its material range keeps growing. They can be resin, plastics, metals, etc.

4. Reaction injection molding (RIM)

Reaction injection molding is one of the rapid injection molding prototyping ways for making one-piece big-sized plastic parts. Compared to CNC machining, RIM is a better option for larger plastic integrated prototypes, such as medical device enclosures and automotive bumpers. Unlike plastic injection molding for mass production, this rapid injection molding prototyping way embraces an easier process, high effectiveness, shorter run, and low costs. 

When you are in the R&D processes and need to choose the rapid prototyping types, you can decide based on the following factors.

1. Quantity

To verify a design, most people only need one or two prototypes. However, in some cases, a small batch of prototypes is necessary for occasions such as various testing and marketing campaigns. Usually, as the quantity rises, the cost per part reduces. And there is always an optimal machining way for a specific quantity demand. 

Vacuum casting is a better choice for dozens of plastic and rubber parts, which is more economical than CNC machining. A silicone mold can last 10-20 shots. Rapid tooling can even make hundreds and thousands of components. If the amount is about or less than five pieces, consider CNC machining first.

2. Materials of the product

Metal parts can be manufactured using CNC machining, fabrication of sheet metal, or 3D printing. 

CNC machining, vacuum casting, and RIM are available for plastic parts. 

3. Lead time

Lead time depends on quantities, machining method, and finishing. As there is no need to make molds, CNC machining, and 3D printing are relatively fast. If your project is urgent, talk to your manufacturer. They will be able to offer you a more optimal plan. Also, if you work with a Chinese prototyping company, remember to factor in international shipping time.

4. Budget

In China, the cost of rapid prototyping is lower than that of Western developed countries to a great extent. You should choose Chinese partners if you wish to save money. 

As a China-based rapid prototyping company, X Rapid Technologies has served numerous customers globally. Instead of letting them choose from all the rapid prototyping types, we offer one-stop solutions for ordinary prototyping and rapid injection molding prototyping needs. Call us today to kickstart your project!