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Future Prototyping Precision Manufacturing Workshop

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In today's increasingly digital world, engineers and designers rely on data that can be displayed on the screen. But in product development, the importance of physical interaction with the design through the form of prototypes cannot be overemphasized.
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Before the digital age, prototyping was a practical skill. Experienced staff members use a variety of handmade techniques to create 3D models of the design. Recently, digital design data has simplified the task of visualizing parts in 3D, and has improved the way designs move from screen to physical world.
 
Although the requirements addressed by the prototype have not changed, namely, adaptation testing and aesthetic decisions, functional and ergonomic testing, and low-speed initial production, the prototype technology itself has been constantly evolving. Read on for tips on using modern rapid prototyping tools today and in the future.
 
1. Collaborate across distances and disciplines
 
For the past few decades, design meetings have taken the form of a group of engineers sitting around a conference table to look at a physical prototype together. In today's world, design teams are scattered around the globe, involving engineers responsible for mechanical, electrical, and code design, as well as marketing experts and suppliers. Modern CAD platforms allow engineers to update designs simultaneously and see changes made by team members in real time from any location.
 
2. Optimize your parts with software
 
Product design processes used to be based on iterative and incremental improvements. Topology generation modules included in some CAD platforms speed changes. This technology, also called generative design, provides key performance and manufacturing requirements to the software, which then returns a series of optimized designs to achieve the specified performance while minimizing material usage. Organic topologies help designers think about the look and function of parts in different ways. They also reduce material waste to improve sustainability and cut costs.
 
3. Real-time analysis
 
Engineers used to look at prototypes step by step to ensure that they achieved the expected performance. In many cases, modern CAD tools can do the same thing virtually. Built-in analysis tools allow engineers to view responses to stress, fatigue, heating or cooling, fluid flow, and more before creating physical parts. To improve performance, they can iterate the design on the fly and reanalyze.
 
4. Send data to 3D printer
 
Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is one of many ways to create a physical prototype. In some applications, engineers appreciate this approach because it can generate parts that cannot be manufactured with other manufacturing technologies and does not require additional tools. To further simplify their application, the file format of some CAD platforms can Software for 3D printing paths works together seamlessly.
 
5. Seamlessly generate CNC programs
 
CNC machining is a subtractive manufacturing method for metals and engineering plastics, and is often used to generate physical prototypes. The code that controlled the machining process used to be created manually or with separate CAM software, but today's CAD software packages have integrated modules that create CNC manufacturing profile files. In some cases, these modules allow you to visually see the effect of material removal before machining begins.
 
6. Inspect parts for manufacturing challenges
 
Design for Manufacturability (DFM) was a technology that required manufacturing engineers to gradually learn over time. Physical prototypes are not always successful in detecting potential manufacturing obstacles because they often use different manufacturing techniques than those used in full-speed production. Modern CAD software packages have a DFM module that flags manufacturability issues before the product is put on the production line.
 
7. Get quotes in real time
 
Although physical prototypes can provide you with many tangible and intangible part-related experiences, they cannot predict how much it will cost to outsource production. Some CAD software packages today allow engineers to request a cnc machining online quote for a design using selected manufacturing techniques. When the CAD file format is a common format, engineers can immediately contact the supplier to outsource manufacturing or collaborate on part improvements.
 
8. Bold iteration
 
The process of creating a physical prototype can be extremely time consuming. Relying on these parts for fit testing, functional testing or aesthetic decisions, improving the design, or creating new prototypes can lead to weeks of design cycles. Engineers today are using analysis, CAM, and DFM tools integrated into modern CAD software packages, and iteratively design as areas for improvement are discovered, and associated downstream products such as manufacturing plans, inspection documents, and supplier data are automatically updated.
 
9. Augmented reality
 
Augmented reality (AR) is increasingly replacing physical prototypes. Nowadays, the design team meeting mentioned above can adopt the scale model projected on the conference table, or the scale model projected on the desktop of each video conference attendee. The realistic model of the virtual part can help the designer to make an informed aesthetic decision.
 
10. Virtual Tour
 
For a more immersive experience, consider using virtual reality (VR), a technology that lets designers and other relevant people, such as end users and marketing professionals, experience products on a real scale. Some VR models allow you to navigate and manipulate design features. Designers can then incorporate ergonomics and experience feedback before commissioning.


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