100 Times Faster: The Future of Rapid Prototyping

Additive manufacturing is the process of manufacturing a material object through layer-by-layer technology, assisted by computer-aided design mechanisms. In engineering applications, a 3D printing phenomenon known as rapid prototyping exists. It is a useful process for scientists and engineers, who use 3D printing technology to rapidly manufacture objects for both theoretical and practical uses. However, the technology has progressed to the point where the physical product can now be printed through additive manufacturing. As is true with many things in engineering, technology has updated the way we do things. The same can be said for rapid prototyping technology. 

Rapid prototyping allows for the creation of models and parts that could be used in engineering applications. In some applications, it is used to take an idea and display it as a working model or prototype. A tool for engineers to envision what the end product of something might look like. However, it has also been instrumental in full product development, as technology has progressed. According to T.S. Srivatsan and T.S. Sudarshan’s book: Additive Manufacturing: Innovations, Advances, and Applications, rapid prototyping has achieved four big successes in the development of products:

1. Reductions in both time and cost

2. Enhanced human interaction 

3. Possibility of creating any shape that would otherwise be difficult to produce 

4. A shortened product development cycle

In the industrial world, additive digital manufacturing has progressed from model building to the creation of finished products, tools and parts that engineers are able to utilize. In 2015, Michael Breme, the head of Audio tool design described how 3D printing was benefitting their business. He said: “It enables us to produce the parts faster and more cost-effectively. For example, with a 3D printer, we don’t have any waste like we would with metal cutting, which means we're faster and more effective.” There is only one problem that remains for 3D printers in the world of today. They are not fast. However, there is a new kid on the block that wants to change that. 

The 3D printing start-up company, Carbon, has received $81 million in funding from investors. The investors include BMW Group, General Electric, Nikon and JSR Corp, amongst others. The company now has $222 million in funding that it will use to further their particular kind of 3D printing. The company utilizes Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP).The Carbon M1 printer produces a solid object from a small tub of liquid plastic through new stereolithography (SLA) rapid prototyping technology. The company says that this method of 3D printing promises prints of objects at a hundred times faster than traditional printers. They are making rapid prototyping even more rapid. 

What this printer does differently, however, is that it uses an ultraviolet (UV) light projector to ‘project’ what the shape should look like, onto the liquid polymer (resin). Instead of a laser physically redefining the CAD pattern over and over again, the CLIP technology uses UV light and oxygen to make a mechanically sound object without the need for layer-by-layer technology. As a result, a chemical process known as photopolymerization occurs. The CEO of Carbon Joseph DeSimone said: “This product lays the groundwork for addressing major gaps in additive manufacturing as we work with our customers to continually innovate and push the boundaries of product design and production.” The speed of production is something that engineers in the rapid prototyping industry are looking forward to. 

The rapid prototyping materials market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 26.8% from 2016 to 2021. Markets and Markets estimate that the rapid prototyping materials market will reach USD 903.8 million by 2021. According to another report, by Wohlers Associates, the entire 3D printing market will reach $10 billion by 2017. They also confirmed that last year, 278,000 desktop 3D printers were purchased, showing that 3D printing is also becoming popular amongst hobbyists. 

The Engineering Institute offers a Professional Certificate of Competency in 3D Engineering Design and Printing for Rapid Prototyping that will help students stay atop the latest trends and technologies in the 3D engineering industry. In the course, trainees will engage in a step-by-step system of creating the most accurate fail-proof 3D prints and learn more about novel engineering industry applications. Best of all, the training occurs completely online through an interactive online platform, complete with an industry expert instructor. During the course, using the latest CAD software for 3D printing, trainees will create and print 3D models from remote locations around the globe. The 3D printed models you create during the course will then be mailed to your address. 

Works Cited
Srivatsan, T. S., and T. S. Sudarshan. Additive Manufacturing: Innovations, Advances, and Applications. Print