Rapid prototyping typically refers to a variety of subtractive and additive technologies that translate CAD data to three dimensional objects. Stereolithography has been a widely utilized RP process since the early 1980s.
Prototyping applications include:
• Concept/Communication Models provide a 3 dimensional design representation that allows visual inspection and communication of an idea within a turnaround period as little as several hours or a few days. Concept models provide a hands–on communication tool that allows for the rapid refinement and iteration of designs.
• UnionTech™ SL equipment provides excellent surface aesthetics. Exceptionally smooth sidewall quality minimizes layer line definition. Textures can be readily applied as part of the model build.
• Form and Fit Prototypes provides practical confirmation of ergonomic factors, aesthetics,as well as how well the prototyped part integrates with other design elements. Multicomponent assemblies can be checked for fit and to ensure no interferences exist.
• UnionTech™ SL equipment is compatible with one of the widest ranges of materials available for any AM process including, clear, colorless, pigmented, and ceramic filled materials.
• Functional Prototypes, as the name implies, refers to evaluating a part under end use condition. This does not necessarily mean that a functional prototype will meet all the requirements of the end use design. Typically a design can be evaluated for one or more critical performance parameters critical to the part design’s intended performance without needing to meet all the requirements of the final end-use.
Examples include wind tunnel testing at a reduced scale to evaluate aerodynamics, impeller designs used to evaluate design elements that affect flow or mixing capabilities, and equipment housings for consumer goods in short term testing.The evolution of stereolithography materials in recent years have allowed engineers to take advantage of the surface aesthetics, ease of finishing, and the ability to create parts ranging from micro to extremely large while obtaining end-use critical mechanical and physical properties.