Rapid prototyping

An example of rapid prototypings is this model of an F1 racer built by selective laser sintering.

Model of an F1 racer built by selective laser sintering.

What is rapid prototyping?

What exactly is rapid prototyping? Additive manufacturing, rapid prototyping, 3-D printing, solid free-form fabrication and many other terms all describe the technologies to create parts and models from computer designs.

Using three-dimensional Computer Aided Design (CAD) files, these machines build individual parts and assemblies layer by layer, which allows a design freedom not available with traditional machined or molded parts. A wide variety of printing technologies and materials exist today. Our program staff are available to help you learn how to evaluate and apply rapid prototyping options to meet your development and fabrication needs.

How is it being used?

Rapid prototyping builds prototypes for the medical, film, academic and construction industries, to name a few. Manufacturers, hobbyists, government agencies and more use the technology to create prototypes that communicate their ideas to potential investors or create a functioning part for custom applications. Many use the technology for small-lot or niche market production.

Why is it important?

Pre-historic humans made tools by taking raw materials and subtracting parts to make what they desired. Making a spear required whittling a stick, breaking rocks into sharp pieces and tying them together using rope or leather. Even today, many processes make waste materials that can’t be recycled. Products that can be recycled require large amounts of energy to be useful again. Rapid prototyping greatly reduces wasted materials and, in many cases, produces no waste. Building from the bottom up uses as little material as possible to produce the part or structure, making it a valuable choice for many applications.  

It is important that businesses of all sizes are aware of what this technology can do for them. It makes modeling faster and replaces the need for expensive tooling. Rapid prototyping saves time and money in a competitive business climate. We offer the knowledge, skills and abilities to take advantage of these technologies because this effort provides for strong and efficient business development in Missouri and beyond.