Sep. 08, 2021
What Is Rapid Manufacturing?
Rapid manufacturing describes a variety of technologies used to produce parts much faster than traditional methods. Time savings are rooted in both reduced tooling times and faster production cycles. This typically involves manufacturing methods such as 3D printing and additive manufacturing, CNC machining, RTV casting and even injection molding when combined with rapid tooling.
In the past, rapid manufacturing has primarily been reserved for prototyping and testing, as the various technologies were incapable of producing production-level volumes in a cost effective way. But recent advancements in materials, dimensional control, cost and speed has made it a more viable option for production parts.
RAPID PROTOTYPING VERSUS RAPID MANUFACTURIN
Prototyping is typically time sensitive and involves relatively low volumes from one to a few hundred. This has made it a natural fit for rapid manufacturing techniques like 3D printing. Prototyping provides valuable support for fit checks, form and function checks, design verification and finalization of color and finish. It allows design engineers to iterate quickly, “fail fast,” and prove their design before proceeding to production.
While rapid manufacturing capabilities are an exceptional tool for prototyping, recent advances mean they can do much more. In many cases, rapid manufacturing can offer competitive costs for end-use production with greatly enhanced speed and flexibility.
Which Production Processes are Compatible with Rapid Manufacturing?
Rapid manufacturing provides the most value when it spans a variety of different manufacturing processes to deliver the greatest flexibility possible when moving from prototype to production.
Rapid manufacturing continues to mature and expand into a wider range of production processes than was possible in the past. For example, IDEAL offers rapid manufacturing across all of the following processes :
RTV Molds and Casting
WHY IS RAPID MANUFACTURING SO VALUABLE FOR PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT?
Rapid manufacturing can deliver significant value compared to traditional manufacturing methods:
Shorter Product Development Timelines: Rapid manufacturing accelerates the product development cycle by eliminating the need for long lead time tooling. A leading toy manufacturer was able to reduce time-to-market for new products by three months using rapid injection molding to accelerate design and testing.
Improved Flexibility in Design: Design choices no longer need to be constrained by tooling limitations. And lower volume, highly targeted products that were once not viable, now are. The freedom to cost-effectively produce components at a smaller scale allows for more design experimentation, more specialized product offerings and the ability to enter new markets more quickly.
Faster Ramp Up to Production: Eliminating tooling in the early stages of production gets product to market faster. And using rapid manufacturing methods for initial production runs provides valuable market feedback that can be used to modify products prior to investing in tooling needed for high-volume production runs.
Improved Financial Returns: Avoiding tooling costs is only the starting point in lowering costs and improving a project’s financial impact. Having the flexibility to iterate faster and make design changes early in the product launch phase translates into significant savings in rework and potential product recalls.
IDEAL offers end-to-end product development support, allowing our client’s projects to move seamlessly from ideation, design and prototyping to optimize cost, function, appearance, usability and manufacturability.
For more information or to discuss your fabrication project, please get in touch via our contact page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
IDEAL ’s blog aims to share our hard-earned knowledge on prototype manufacturing. Choosing The Right Prototype Manufacturer to Prototype Your Ideas Before Manufacturing
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