Rapid prototyping is a crucial stage in the development of new products. Prototypes allow designers to identify design flaws before mass production, preventing potential losses. Each country has prototype manufacturers that offer various levels of prototyping technology. Compared to their Western counterparts, Chinese prototype manufacturers have long been providing high-quality custom prototyping services. This article will explore the unique features of China's rapid manufacturing companies and provide insights into how they operate, to assist you in selecting the right Chinese rapid manufacturing company for your needs.
Definition of Rapid Prototyping/Manufacturing
Rapid prototyping refers to the efficient and quick creation of a physical, three-dimensional prototype of a product, typically through the use of computer-aided design (CAD) software and modern manufacturing technologies, such as CNC machining, 3D printing, vacuum casting, and rapid tooling. Rapid prototyping is usually performed on newly designed or developed products, as it is the first step in verifying the feasibility of the product and discovering its design flaws, deficiencies, and disadvantages.
Compared to traditional manufacturing methods, rapid prototyping technology boasts superior speed, integration, versatility, adjustability, and automation capabilities, enabling designers to transform their ideas into physical prototypes or end-use products quickly, directly, and accurately. The cost is also relatively low, making up for the limitations of traditional manufacturing methods.
Benefits of Rapid Prototyping
1. Verify the design's appearance
The prototype allows designers to visualize and touch their designs, giving them an intuitive, physical representation of their ideas, preventing situations where a design looks good on paper but not in reality. As such, prototypes play an indispensable role in refining the appearance of new products.
2. Evaluate structural design
The ability to assemble the prototype enables designers to inspect the structure and assess its ease of installation, helping to identify and resolve any issues early on.
3. Minimize mass production risk
The cost of molding is typically high, with large molds costing hundreds of thousands or even millions. Rapid prototyping helps to avoid these losses by reducing the risk of mass production.
4. Accelerate new product launches
The advanced nature of rapid prototyping enables designers to use prototypes for product promotions and early sales and production preparation, allowing them to occupy the market as early as possible, ahead of mold development.
Recent Rapid Prototyping Market Trends
According to MMR, the global rapid prototyping market was valued at $0.87 billion in 2021. Over 50% of rapid prototype manufacturers are located in North America, followed by Europe and Asia. The market is expected to grow to $6.98 billion by 2029.
The most commonly used rapid prototyping technologies are subtractive manufacturing and additive manufacturing, including Stereolithography, Selective Laser Sintering, Fused Deposition Modeling, and Ink Jet printing techniques. The key end-user industries include aerospace & defense, healthcare, automotive, consumer goods & electronics, manufacturing & construction, and others.
How Do Rapid Manufacturing Companies Work in China?
Rapid prototyping is a must for testing new designs. Compared to building a prototyping department, seeking to work with rapid manufacturing companies is more economical and less troublesome. Because it saves you a lot of setup costs for buying expensive machines and hiring more staff. And China's rapid prototypes LLCs are notable for their low costs, high efficiency, and responsiveness. So this article explores how rapid manufacturing companies in China work to provide you with a closer view when you are thinking of outsourcing prototypes from China.
1. Organization structure of Chinese rapid manufacturing companies
A medium- or large-sized prototyping company usually has a marketing department, sales department, quotation department, production department, inspection department, purchasing department, human resources, and administration department. The production department often is composed of many subdivisions including the programming department, CNC machining workshop, vacuum casting workshop, 3D printing workshop, sheet metal fabrication workshop, manual treatment department, packing department, etc. Of course, the organizational structures of different rapid prototypes LLCs vary. It also depends on the development phase of the company.
A typical organizational structure of a Chinese rapid manufacturing company
2. Workflow of Chinese rapid manufacturing companies
In rapid prototypes LLC, the marketing department is responsible for getting leads via a series of marketing campaigns like SEM advertisements and SEO. Then the sales approach potential customers through e-mails and calls. When there are inquiries, the quotation department makes a cost list and the sales offer the quotation to the customer. There will be negotiations if the customer doesn’t accept it the first time. After the quotation is confirmed, the production will get the production task list and starts programming for manufacturing based on 3D files provided by the client. The lead time may not as the same as the quotation offers. Because the production plans of rapid manufacturing companies may change when the orders are placed. A professional supplier will keep our customers updated then. As soon as the machining is complete, the workers in the manual treatment department post-treat the parts as needed.
Inspection work will be done afterward, including checking the sizes, tolerances, etc. Once the parts are assembled, they will be tested to check if there are any issues. If there are problems, they will be solved before packing and shipment. On some occasions, some foreign companies will not use the inspection department of the prototyping company. They employ their quality inspector in China to ensure high quality of plastic and metal rapid prototypes from partner companies/LLCs and fewer after-sales problems. Therefore, even if you work with local rapid prototypes LLCs, there is a large possibility that some Chinese rapid manufacturing companies are behind them.
In X Rapid Technologies, one of the rapid prototypes LLCs, the sales also act as a project manager who is in charge of his or her project from beginning to end and coordinates with all the departments. Each client has a 1-on-1 project manager to ensure he or she knows every detail of your project well so that the project can be taken care of very well.
What Will a Chinese Rapid Manufacturing Company Be Like in the Future?
According to current technological and material trends, rapid manufacturing companies in China would develop in the following several ways.
1. Enhanced automation
Rapid prototypes LLCs in China are going to become more automated. Because new technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence are getting more and more evolved in the industry. Companies also combine CNC machines and 3D printers to utilize both advantages. So fewer labor costs would be employed as well. It will increase efficiency while decreasing costs.
2. Development of new materials
As the demand for more complex and specialized prototypes rises, especially in the 3D printing sector, new materials will most certainly be required to meet these demands. Institutions like top universities in China are working hard to study and test new materials. More and more new materials will be used in industries such as medical devices and aerospace.
3. Better quality
As China becomes an important player in the global prototyping sector, Chinese rapid prototypes LLCs will most likely focus on manufacturing high-quality prototypes that meet international requirements. The solutions need to be cost-effective as well.
4. Expanding into new industries
Apart from its wide application in industries like automotive and medical devices, with its technological development, rapid prototyping will be applied in more industries. For instance, when applied in the construction sector in the future, rapid prototyping could produce construction components quickly, accurately, and cost-effectively, thus improving construction efficiency and quality. At the same time, following their Western counterparts, Chinese rapid manufacturing companies are surely participating deeper in more new industries.
As a rapid manufacturing company in China, X Rapid Technologies keeps increasing our automation and exploring new materials, and striving to deliver good-quality prototypes and small batches at reasonable prices to our beloved customers. Via growing with the industry, we believe X Rapid Technologies would play a more essential role in the international market in the near future.
How to work with X Rapid Technologies
As one of the plastic and metal rapid prototype companies/LLCs, X Rapid Technologies sticks to the project management business model. In this way, we never are afraid when issues arise because the person in charge is certain. Just turn to the 1-on-1 project manager, and he or she will, by all means, have the problems solved. As a result, we can guarantee the quality of plastic and metal prototypes among other rapid manufacturing companies. What matters best is always people. This is also our key to success. If you want to work with a rapid prototypes LLC like us, please send us your 3D files (in CAD, STP, STEP, IGS, or X_T format), and you will get an instant quote within 24 hours with your parts ready in about 7 working days!