Living in a World of Rapid Prototyping

prototype sample

Rapid Prototyping (RP) is the process of making models and prototypes from 3D model data by joining materials layer by layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing methodologies, such as traditional machining. Bewildered by the many technologies available today for rapid prototyping? You’re not alone. Without an apples-to-apples comparison, it is hard to know which will work best for you. For today, let us take a moment to understand:

Stereolithography

Starting from a 3D image, a part is built slice by slice from bottom to top in a vessel of liquid polymer that hardens when struck by a laser beam.

Beginning with your STL file, the required supports for overhangs and cavities are automatically generated in the model under construction. The support and model files are then “cut” into thin horizontal slices and programmed into the stereolithography 3-D Printing machine. This machine then uses a computer-controlled laser to draw the bottom cross section onto the surface of a liquid polymer that hardens where struck by the laser. The part is then lowered to a depth corresponding to the section’s thickness and the next cross section is then drawn directly on top of the previous one. This is repeated until the part is finished. The supports are removed manually after the product is taken from the stereolithography machine.

Pretty. Darn. Cool! Check out this video from our friend at Materialize and ask your self, do you have a idea worth Rapid Prototyping?

materialize video

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