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Rapid Prototyping: a Brief Introduction

We answered some of the internet's most frequently asked questions about Rapid Prototyping.

What is Rapid Prototyping?

Rapid prototyping is the fast manufacture of prototypes of a product or a part of a product. This covers a wide group of techniques from constructing cardboard models to injection moulding suitable for various needs and design stages throughout the production process.

At Midas, our rapid tooling and prototyping process FASTrim™ uses reaction injection moulding to quickly create professional-quality products in small quantities, using production materials. Using 3D CAD designs and CNC machining to create prototype tooling, we can provide prototype reaction mouldings in a matter of days.

What does rapid prototyping mean?

Rapid prototyping describes the process of quickly creating multiple prototypes of a product. This is crucial in the design and development of any product, with multiple prototyping techniques being used at different stages of the process testing everything from design to materials to the workings of specific parts.

Midas’ FASTrim™ process uses CNC machining to create mould tools in a matter of days which can then be used to produce prototypes in production materials using reaction injection moulding. This process gives you the flexibility to test prototypes and modify the results quickly without investing in a full-scale production process. It is also capable of producing high-quality, potentially complicated products with complex undercut features and cast-in threaded inserts.

How does rapid prototyping work?

Rapid prototyping can be roughly split into three different categories; additive manufacturing, where a prototype is created by adding material (e.g. 3D printing), subtractive manufacturing, where a prototype is created by subtracting material from a block, and compressive manufacturing, where the material is compressed and shaped by a mould.

At Midas, we use CNC machining to create a mould tool in a matter of days, which can then be used to create your product using reaction injection moulding. Our flexible tooling process enables you to modify and adapt your product in each subsequent version, giving you near-immediate feedback and opportunity to explore your ideas.

Rapid prototyping and 3D printing difference

3D printing is a method of additive manufacture used as a type of rapid prototyping that can approximate the dimensions and structure of a finished product. Various other methods of manufacture (e.g. reaction injection moulding) are used in rapid prototyping to approximate other features such as material and durability.

Midas FASTrim™ provides a rapid prototyping service using reaction injection moulding. As this process uses the exact same materials as full-scale production, prototypes made using this method can demonstrate surface finish quality and material properties, which other methods of rapid prototyping cannot do.

How much does rapid prototyping cost?

As there are so many different methods of rapid prototyping, it is difficult to say how much the process will cost. Constructing a model product from cardboard will always be cheaper than 3D printing, and even then it can vary wildly depending on volume and size.

However, rapid prototyping is much more cost-efficient than going through an entire production process every time, and different types of prototyping (and the associated costs) are the most suitable for different tests and stages of development.

Midas FASTrim™ uses production materials to construct prototypes, making it ideal for testing surface finish and material properties. Once created, these parts are ready for testing, validation, design sign off and of course - sale, making it an ideal competitive alternative to many rapid prototyping technologies such as SLS/SLA/Vacuum casting.

If you think rapid reaction injection moulding could be the right process for developing your product, contact us today to discuss your project and to get some indicative figures.

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Rapid Prototyping: a Brief Introduction