Sunrise Metal is one of leading companies in making real-life products out of customers’ design concepts.
“Speeding up your time to market” is our fundamental promise to our customers.
1-2 weeks for Volume less than 100pcs
2-4 weeks for production tooling etc.
With Rapid tooling and quick production arrangement, we can provide quick production delivery.
|1||Mazak 7-axis turning & milling Machine||1||Ф658*1011MM|
|2||Mazak /Hass 5-axis CNC Machine||2||Ф800/Ф600|
|3||3-axis CNC Machine Center||1||2000*1500MM|
|4||4-axis CNC Machine Center||12||Ф250*800MM|
|5||3-axis CNC Machine Center||20||1000*600*600MM|
|7||Sodick Wire Cutting Machine||3||400*400*200MM|
If you got any questions, please do not hesitate to send us a message. We reply within 24 hours.
RAPID PROTOTYPING-THE DEFINITIVE FAQ GUIDE
Rapid prototyping aims to turn your vision into reality. The entire process is fast, allowing you to see a physical, 3D, model.
Rapid prototyping was first used in the late 1980s. It was initially utilized for the creation of prototypes and models, hence the name.
Today technology has advanced, making this an essential part of your development process.
Check out these FAQs to discover everything you need to know about rapid prototyping. If your query hasn’t been answered contact us, we’re here to help.
WHAT IS RAPID PROTOTYPING?
Designers need to access a fast and efficient way to produce a prototype of their designs. This enables them to see the process and the completed item before the full-scale production process starts.
Various techniques are used during rapid processing to create the prototype, the aim is to produce as little time as possible.
This reduces your design time and allows you to identify any flaws before you substantially invest in a product. It also helps to ensure you’re first to market with a new product. That can make a huge difference to your profitability.
It’s cost-effective as tool and die sets are not used, the physical object comes directly from the computer specs.
WHEN IS RAPID PROTOTYPING USED?
In general, it’s the best solution for creating a prototype and can be used by any industry or manufacturer.
Whether you have a completely new product you want to bring to market or you want to modify what you have already got, rapid prototyping can help.
Traditionally a prototype was created from wood and other materials by hand. This allowed users to test their function and suitability. Unfortunately, this is a time-consuming approach.
Being able to create a prototype from the computer specs dramatically reduces this time, making this an effective approach for any business looking to change or introduce a product.
WHAT IS ADDICTIVE LAYERTING MANUFACTURING?
Addictive Layering, or ALM, is a process used during rapid prototyping.
Instead of creating the prototype in one mold, ALM allows you to build it one layer at a time. This provides a greater degree of control over each layer and the subsequently finished shape.
This approach allows quick modification of existing components, allowing businesses to evaluate potential improvements.
By adding aluminum a very thin layer at a time you’ll have complete control over the final product.
It’s particularly beneficial when creating automotive parts where body and engine parts are often subtly tweaked each year. The ALM process makes it easy to assess the effectiveness of design changes before mass production starts.
HOW DOES RAPID PROTYPING WORK?
Whatever you’re designing you need to see it before production begins properly. This allows you to find flaws and tweak the overall look.
Rapid prototyping works by removing material from a block to create the desired prototype. There are a variety of raw materials that can be used. However, aluminum remains one of the most versatile and, thanks to high-speed CNC machining, one of the fastest.
That’s the key, this process is fast. An image of the desired part can be conjured using 3D Computer-Aided Design, (CAD).
There are a variety of techniques used with rapid prototyping. High-speed CNC machining is a common approach because it can provide first-class results in a very short space of time.
Fast molding and extruding are also viable methods of undertaking rapid prototyping. However, if you want popular and economical, especially for aluminum parts, you need high-speed CNC machining.
Technically this is a subtractive manufacturing technique. In other words, aluminum is trimmed down from the solid block to create the desired shape and specifications.
High-speed CNC machining works by utilizing a high spindle speed, this increases the rate at which metal is removed from the block, allowing rapid prototyping. Combine this with the fast-changing of set up and output criteria and you’ll start to see how rapid prototyping is possible.
In fact, CNC machining is very effective at creating intricate designs and sculpting the core of a mod to your exact specifications. This makes it perfect for creating complex and matching parts out of a block of aluminum. That’s relevant for any industry that needs the specifications to be exact, such as avionics, vehicle engineering, or hospital equipment.
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RAPID PROTOTYPING AND MOLD INJECTION?
Yes. Mold injection requires the creation of a mold. This means you need the right tools to create the mold and all the intricate interior elements. Only once the mold has been created can you inject molten plastic, or some other materials into the mold. Once set you’ll have your desired part.
The process is considerably longer than rapid prototyping because the mold has to be created first. This additional element will increase the cost of the prototype and, you’ll find it difficult to tweak your design. It’s not possible to add on or take away from an injection mold. You’ll need to create a new mold and inject it all over again before you can see if your intended changes are effective.
In short, mold injection takes longer and costs more than rapid prototyping.
It’s worth noting that prototype molds will be faster than standard injection molds. These use a standard base and custom-designed internal sections, allowing the creation of your desired spec. But, even a prototype mold is considerably slower than rapid prototyping techniques.
Of course, with the mold ready and the internal sections designed the production tie can be surprisingly fast. But, opt for the CNC machine rapid prototype and you’ll gain speed, strength, and accuracy.
That’s perhaps the most important point when considering CNC rapid prototyping, it remains the most accurate way to engineer anything. When accuracy and minimal time are important you need CNC -machined rapid prototyping.
HOW LONG DOES THE RAPID PROTOTYPING PROCESS TAKE?
All types of rapid prototyping share the same basic steps,the first of these is to create a 3D model of the part you wish to create,it needs to be created using CAD software. In short, you’ll be able to visualize the product on your screen.
You can then commission the prototype. It can be created in several hours, ready for you to inspect and, if necessary improve on.
A good approach is to spend the day designing the product, have it created with CNC machining and then evaluate, test, and improve the design. It can then be re-made and the process repeated.
In other words, within 1-2 weeks you should be able to produce and test any design. This will increase the speed at which you can design and produce a marketable product and get it to the market.
The exact amount of time it will take to create will depend on the complexities of the design and how many times you wish to edit the design.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RAPID PROTOTYPING AND 3D PRINTING?
3D printing is a form of rapid prototyping. However, it is generally undertaken with plastic. This means the finished prototype is likely to have poor strength. While this might be acceptable for a cursory look at a prototype, it’s not a practical option if you actually want to test the prototype. You’ll likely to find it failing when one finished in aluminum wouldn’t.
3D printing can be completed in-house if you’re prepared to invest in a 3D printer. Of course, the quality of the prototype will hinge on the quality of the 3D printer.
It’s important to note that 3D printing is an additive manufacturing approach to rapid prototyping. It works by printing a layer of material, usually plastic, and then printing more and more layers on top until you have a complete 3D shape.
In contrast, rapid prototyping covers all the different techniques available to create a prototype of your design. This includes subtractive methods such as aluminum CNC machining which is subtractive, removing the material from a block to create the desired prototype or finished product.
It’s also worth noting that 3D printing is a term often used by the media and members of the public. The terms ‘addictive manufacturing’ and ‘subtractive manufacturing’ are generally used by industry professionals.
In short, 3D printing is a type of rapid prototyping using additive manufacturing processes. Rapid prototyping is the name for all techniques used to quickly create a prototype, even subtractive processes such as aluminum CNC machining.
You should also be aware that the 3D printing process may appear cheaper. But, aside from quality issues, it won’t offer the range of materials that rapid prototyping does. You’ll also struggle to match the accuracy of aluminum CNC machining as a type of rapid prototyping.
IS SELECTIVE LASER SINTERING MORE EFFECTIVE THAN DIRECT METAL LASER SINTERING?
Selective Laser Sintering, (SLS) is a form of rapid prototyping using the additive manufacturing method. As the name suggests, a high-powered laser is essential for the completion of the process.
It is generally used with plastics, ceramics, and even glass. The particles of these materials are heated by the high-powered laser. This allows them to start to melt and effectively fuses them together. The material is usually in powder form and will be heated to the verge of its melting point.
Direct Metal Laser Sintering, (DLMS) is a similar approach. The key difference is that it doesn’t heat the metal powder to the molten point. Instead, the particles sinter together at a lower temperature, this is similar to welding but at a particle level. This means DLMS uses less energy and the cost is generally cheaper.
However, because it uses a lower temperature it generally works best with alloys instead of pure metals.
It’s worth noting that while both these methods are effective they are generally more expensive and slower than using the CNC machining approach to rapid prototyping.
WHAT IS FUSED DEPOSITION?
This is another additive manufacturing technique and is also a type of 3D printing. The Fused Deposition Modeling, (FDM) printer uses a thermoplastic filament. The filament is heated until it reaches the melting point, allowing the printer to push it onto the platform.
It will then create your prototype, layer by layer. The molten filament forms a defined shape, as controlled by your CAD program, the heat of the process ensures each level merges with the one before it, creating a one-piece prototype.
It is an effective approach but slower than many other rapid prototyping techniques. End-use parts can be made with this type of rapid prototyping but they must be plastic-based, such as Lego bricks or canoes.
To get the precise detail and strength, ready for mass production, you’ll need to utilize aluminum CNC machining.
WHICH TYPE OF RAPID PROTOTYPING IS BEST?
Every type of rapid prototyping has a place, depending on the budget and the end aim. However, there is no doubt that subtractive manufacturing, such as aluminum CNC machining, will give you the most precise results.It’s not just the preciseness of the finished product that you’ll appreciate. The finish is generally better and it has higher tolerance levels than other methods of rapid prototyping.Although additive manufacturing is generally the cheaper option, it is only suitable for lower quality, less precise parts.In many industries, this simply isn’t good enough. For example, parts in the automotive industry need to be exact, both in dimensions and in the finish. Miscalculations can create a huge difference in energy efficiency, aerodynamics, or fuel consumption. If preciseness is important then subtractive manufacturing is the best approach.
When you need to know that the part will perform under pressure, you need the prototype to be as good as the final part, which means using CNC machining to rapidly create the necessary component.
WHAT’S THE MAIN ADVANTAGE OF RAPID PROTOTYPING?
The main benefit of rapid prototyping is the ability to physically examine an intended design.
Every industry is competitive. If you’re hoping to be the first to bring a new product to market you have to be aware that it’s a race. Anything you can do to speed up your production tie is good.
Of course, your product does need to perform the necessary function and be durable. There is no point rushing a product to market only to have it destroy your reputation.
That’s the main advantage of rapid prototyping. Instead of taking days or weeks to create a prototype, you can have a replica in a matter of hours.
It should be noted that addictive methods, such as 3D printing can give you a look at the rough product. But, they won’t have the accuracy or the strength to allow you to fully assess the final article, which is essential if you want your business reputation to stay intact.
Subtractive manufacturing methods, such as aluminum CNC machining, allow you to create an accurate and strong prototype. This encourages robust testing and the creation of a valued product for the market.
The biggest advantage of rapid prototyping is simple, it speeds up your time from concept to finished component. You just need to make sure you choose the right method of rapid prototyping.
HOW IS RAPID PROTOTYPING RELEVANT TO DESIGNERS?
Designers like to visualize any product they are creating. This is important as the look of a part is almost as important as its function. Visualizing the part also encourages designers to see how it will work and whether it is the most effective solution.
This process can be helped by using 3D computer software. But, when this is linked to rapid prototyping the designer can touch and feel the finished article. They’ll be able to test it and tweak it, which is much easier when you’re dealing with a physical item and you can experiment with different scenarios.
Being able to hold the final product means it is much easier to adjust it, simply because you can see it in action and spot the flaws that may not otherwise be obvious.
Using rapid prototyping means the changes can be made incredibly quickly. This speeds up production time. But, it also helps the designer to focus, their attention doesn’t need to leave the design in hand, helping to ensure you end up with the best possible part for the job.
Simply create the design, have the prototype made, review, refine, and have it made again.
The prototype doesn’t need to be fully functional for it to be properly assessed. But it does need to have the specifications right, which is why an accurate method like subtractive manufacturing and aluminum CNC machining is a popular choice.
IS PAPID PROTOTYPING EXPENSIVE?
This is a relative question. There are different types of rapid processing and each type has a different price tag. The exact price will depend on the technique, material, timescale, and several other criteria.
In general subtractive manufacturing is cheaper than additive manufacturing. However, there is more to the cost than just the prototype construction.
You’ll need to consider how important it is to have an accurate prototype and how much testing will need to be done, especially under pressure. But, perhaps most importantly, you’ll need to consider the cost to your reputation if you accept a design and it turns out to be weak, badly configured, or some other issue.
The material used and the amount of wastage/disposal fees is also a relevant criterion that should be considered.
Rapid prototyping is cheaper than hand-making a prototype. It is also much faster. The cost can vary depending on what you want.
But, this cost is small compared to the potential damage you could do to your business. That means it’s essential to invest in rapid prototyping.
Don’t forget that the equipment to undertaking rapid prototyping costs tens of thousands of dollars, that’s why specialist firms exist to handle the production side of rapid prototyping. All you have to do is build a good relationship with them.
WHO SHOULD BE USING RAPID PROTOTYPING?
This process is generally aimed at manufacturers looking to improve their existing products or even bring new ones to the market.
However, the truth is that rapid prototyping can and should be used by anyone with a new idea. Because it can quickly provide you with a physical example of your vision it will motivate you to keep working while allowing you to see if your design is as effective as you hoped it would be.
While manufacturers are potentially in the best position to utilize rapid prototyping, they are not the only people who should be using it. Anyone who is intent on designing a product to see if it’s feasible and can be brought to the market should be using rapid prototyping.
It won’t just help you to be the first to release a new product, it will also help you to get the financial support you may need. Having a prototype will enable prospective financiers to see what you’re intending on creating. This generally makes them more comfortable investing in you.
It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, you’ll find rapid prototyping useful.
IS RAPID PROTOTYPING EFFECTIVE?
Yes! This is especially true if you find the right team to work with.
By interpreting your needs properly a team can produce an accurate prototype in a number of hours. This can then be easily adjusted after you’ve had a chance to evaluate it.
Using CNC machining the prototype can be 100% accurate, giving you the exact specifications you need to quickly start mass production and bring your product to the market.
A good team won’t just create the prototype for you. They can offer helpful tips and advice regarding the best approach with the product and materials you’re using. They can also provide an unbiased opinion regarding the prototype.
While they may not be specialists in your specific industry, a good team will have knowledge of hundreds, or thousands, of prototypes. They are likely to recognize what works and what needs tweaking. All you have to do is listen to their opinion and decide whether to act on it or not.
In short, the process of creating your prototype, including the people involved in the process, is effective at helping you get the best possible product. The reason is simple, every part of the team wants you to succeed because your success is shared with everyone.
That makes rapid prototyping more than effective it makes it an essential part of any product design.
WHEN WAS RAPID PROTOTYPING FIRST INVENTED?
Humans have always sought to improve their environment and their abilities. In this sense prototyping, or simply trying new products out, has been completed since the dawn of humanity.
However, most prototyping methods have been slow and often ineffective. The roots of modern rapid prototyping appear to date from 1892. A layered method for making a mold to illustrate topography in maps was suggested by Blanther.
Effectively the contour lines were cut on several plates and then stacked on top of each other. This effectively created a 3D map.
In 1974 Matsubara used a photopolymer resin to create thin layers stacked vertically. The result was a casting mold. Developments continued through the late 70s and the early 80s.
But, it was in the 1980s that rapid prototyping really came into its own. This is when 3D CAD made it possible to create a scale model of any design. CAD emphasized the need to create a geometrically possible model that could then be rapidly made via one of the many different techniques.
While 3D printers have become a popular option, many prefer the accuracy and quality of aluminum CNC machining.
WHAT’S THE LINK BETWEEN RAPID PROTOTYPING AND MASS PRODUCTION?
In a word – speed.
Rapid prototyping increases the speed at which a prototype can be made and assessed. In turn, this hastens the creation of a workable product, even if this takes several rounds of rapid prototyping.
Once the design has been approved it is safe to start ass producing the item. This is only possible because the design has been tested and approved. The specs are loaded into the CAD, allowing any mass production company to make exactly the part you want.
Most rapid prototyping businesses are set up to maximize the speed at which a prototype can be created. These businesses are able to provide a small number of the finished product in one run. But, because they are designed to help businesses find the solutions, they are not capable of producing in massive quantities.
That’s why mass production factories remain important. Once the idea has been confirmed as viable, rapid prototyping can quickly complete the task and you can quickly transfer to mass production.
The same specs and materials are used to ensure complete accuracy.
IS RAPID PROTOTYPING RELIABLE AND ACCURATE?
CNC Machining is probably the most accurate of all the rapid prototyping methods. But, regardless of which method you choose, you’ll find that rapid prototyping offers an accurate interpretation of your designs.
The reason for this is that your designs are created on the computer and this program is used to tell the production process the exact specifications. The result is the prototype accurately recreates these specifications and parameters.
Because this process is largely computer-controlled the design can be recreated time after time with no discernable difference between products.
That makes it reliable and accurate.
Even if it needs to be finished by hand you’ll find the parameters remain intact and you’ll have an accurate representation of your design, as a prototype.
Being able to rely on the quality of the product is important if you’re envisioning a new product.
WHAT QUALITY CONTROL PROCEDURES ARE USED FOR RAPID PROTOTYPING?
The CAD program will verify that the design you’ve entered is physically possible to generate. If it isn’t the project will stop there!
This is the first step in quality control. The next step is manual verification of the specifications. Alongside this, the production process is subject to random testing that ensures the specifications set are being met at every stage of prototype production.
Each of the production stages is carefully controlled with markers to check no deviation has occurred.
Equally, the finished prototype is carefully inspected against the initial request. Any deviation will cause the prototype to be rejected and modified or remade. That’s the real key to quality control. The reputation of a company is vital to it’s continuing success, inspecting a product is an essential part of the quality control process.
Adherence to ISO 9001 & IATF 16949 certifies that the company is dedicated to the highest standards of quality at every step of the process.
IS THERE A MINIMUM OR MAXIMUM SIZE REQUIREMENT FOR RAPID PROTOTYPING?
The specific answer to this will depend on your chosen rapid prototyping technique. For example. A 3D printer prints in layers, the base of the printer generally shifts downwards to allow the next layer to be produced.
While there is no minimum size the maximum will be defined by the range of movement in the printer. This will confirm the maximum height while the size of the base platform controls the width of your prototype.
Of course, the bigger the printer the more it can handle.
In contrast, it is very difficult to put a maximum size when undertaking CNC machining. It will depend on the capabilities of the machines your prototype company owns.
The best option is to choose a firm that has a multitude of lathes and turning/milling machines. This will ensure your prototype can be accommodated. Sunrise has 9 different types of machines, including 20 3-axis machine centers, 12 4 axis, and 2 CNC lathes. They really are ready to handle any size prototype you need, just talk t them first.
WHAT FILE FORMATS ARE ACCEPTABLE WHEN RAPID PROTOTYPING?
The most commonly used file formats for CNC rapid prototyping are STEP and IGES.
The STEP file is a standard CAD file that allows the sharing of 3D images between users. However, the number of file formats that are accepted by CAD systems means that the process of sharing can be a headache.
To combat this STEP, Standard for the Exchange of Product model data has been created which allows files to be interchanged effortlessly.
STEP files are actually open-source, this means anyone can access them and they’re free.
IGES is the other main type of fie accepted by CAD systems for rapid prototyping. This is also open source.
In most cases, you’ll find your CAD software saves in this format or offers the option to. If it doesn’t you can purchase file converters that will convert your format to either STEP or IGES.
This can then be read by the manufacturer computer program and the prototype can be made directly from the computer system.
If you need any help converting your file or accessing the right format then contact Sunrise Casting for help.
DO I NEED TO CHANGE MY NORMAL APPROACH TO DESIGN TO UTILIZE RAPID PROTOTYPING?
For the file to be processed and the prototype produced it needs to be in STEP or IGEs format. But, if you currently draw a prototype by hand you can still continue to do this. The key difference is that you or someone else will need to transfer this to a computer with 3D software.
The software can then recreate your hand-drawn sketch and you can verify the detail is correct before you send the file for rapid prototyping.
Failing that, Sunrise Metal can help you to transfer your design into a computer format ready for creation.
Of course, if you already use an interactive computer program you simply need to make sure it’s saved in the right file format for the prototype production process to get started.
In short, inputting to a computer will shorten the process. But, doing what you’re comfortable with will ensure that you get the right product in the end.
SHOULD I REPLICATE ALL THE FUNCTIONALITY WHEN USING RAPID PROTOTYPING?
This depends on what stage of development you’re at. The closer you are to a final product the more likely the answer to this should be yes.
Adding all functionality into the prototype is unlikely to make a significant difference to the cost or the time taken to produce the prototype. However, it will take longer to complete the CAD design which Sunrise Metal needs when completing high-speed CNC machined rapid prototyping.
The question then becomes how relevant is the functionality. If you’re intending to solidify the design style then functionality is not a key component. But once you’ve defined the product and need to verify it works properly it’s essential you build as much functionality into it as possible.
Getting the prototype right will help to ensure the final product does exactly what it’s supposed to.
In short, the closer you are to mass production the more important the functional detail is on the prototype.
WHAT IS CNC MACHINING&HOW IS IT RELEVANT TO RAPID PROTOTYPING?
CNC machining is a method of removing material from a block to create a specific shape. It uses a spindle to remove the material and can create intricate interior passageways. In fact, CNC machining remains the most accurate way to produce any part.
Sunrise Metal uses a high-speed CNC machining technique. This means lightly milling the aluminum with a very fast spindle. It passes over the aluminum block quickly and, if necessary, repeatedly, until the exact specifications of your CAD drawing are met.
This approach is so accurate that it is the preferred choice for machining avionics parts, complex components can be created from a single block of aluminum. That increases strength and decreases the likelihood of flaws and component failure.
The speed of this means that metal can be removed very quickly and accurately.
That’s what makes it such a good option for rapid prototyping. It’s affordable, accurate, and fast. That’s three very important factors when you’re trying to bring a new product to the market.
IS RAPID PROTOTYPING AN ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY OPTION?
Like many things in life the answer is not straightforward, it is both yes and no.
The answer to this very much depends on the material you use. For example, using the high-speed CNC machines at Sunrise Metal means you’re creating something from aluminum. Once you’ve finished evaluating the prototype it can be melted down and re-used, in other words, it’s 100% recycled.
Other materials aren’t so easy to recycle, such as plastic, making them less environmentally friendly.
Of course, you also need to consider the energy used in producing the aluminum and the energy consumed when rapid prototyping.
The greener the energy the more friendly the product will be for the environment.
It’s also interesting to note that studies have shown subtractive manufacturing to be more environmentally friendly than additive manufacturing techniques. Subtractive methods utilize one block of material and any removed material is recycled. This is less wasteful than additive that requires a constant feed of raw materials, effectively creating more waste.
IS A CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT NECESSARY WHEN UTILIZING RAPID PROTOTYPING?
This is an important consideration. If you’re planning on bringing a new product to the market and entrusting a company to create a prototype, you want o know your designs are safe. This is especially true if you’re not quite at the stage to register a patent.
The answer should be no, it’s not necessary. It’s certainly the case if you’re dealing with Sunrise Metal. The company has a binding agreement with you and operates strict confidentiality clauses to ensure your designs remain yours.
However, if you’re considering using a different company, it is worth checking the reputation of the business.
If you have any doubts you should insist on a Non-Disclosure Agreement, (NDA). This is a legally binding document that will prevent the rapid prototyping manufacturer from utilizing your designs or revealing them to anyone else.
Having a signed NDA by both parties means that you have a legal right to compensation if the agreement is broken. As this could be a significant sum neither party will be eager to break the agreement.
Sunrise Metal is one of the best rapid prototyping firms in existence and they are ready to help you with every step of the process. If you can’t find the answer to your question here, you should contact them now and gain the peace of mind you need to create your prototype.