The Ultimate Guide To Rapid Manufacturing For Product Development

Rapid manufacturing

Rapid manufacturing

Traditional manufacturing does not suit every company’s product development plan, so many of them are turning to rapid manufacturing. In fact, rapid manufacturing is a great way to cut down production costs and save a lot of time in the production process. The global drive toward rapid manufacturing is driven by innovation and scalability to find alternative ways so that companies can release their products to reach the market as soon as possible.

Traditional manufacturing

Being one of the most popular production techniques, rapid manufacturing enables companies to rapidly put together the end product without engaging inexpensive, high-volume production techniques, and doing in a fraction of the time needed compared to traditional manufacturing. So, what is rapid manufacturing actually? Let’s layout the basics.


What Is Rapid Manufacturing?

It refers to the production of market-ready parts and components using different techniques and methods with the help of nontraditional tools and CAD. The main advantage of this manufacturing process is that the process is swift and relatively inexpensive. Furthermore, it is entirely suitable for low volume production. On the other hand, in many circumstances, traditional manufacturing employs high-cost equipment and machinery that take a long time to produce a finished product. Injection molding, shaping, and joining are all instances of classical manufacturing.

The software used to control and guide the processes is critical in rapid manufacturing. Professional automation makes sure that the product is manufactured efficiently – saving precious time and resources by enacting a program specially designed by engineers and designers. Rapid manufacturing includes different techniques such as rapid tooling, CNC machining, and 3D printing. However, these methods have one thing in common – they employ digital designs and software to boost efficiency as much as possible.


Rapid Manufacturing VS Rapid Prototyping

Rapid prototyping is the process in which parts or products are being fabricated with the help of computer-aided designs. It uses three-dimensional CAD information to create a prototype that the company needs for testing before it starts manufacturing the end product. It is a particularly fast process that allows designers and engineers to apply changes or modifications if required. For that reason, companies that constantly redesign their products or have multiple lines of products significantly benefit from rapid prototyping. 

The main difference between rapid manufacturing and rapid prototyping is that the former produces products or components ready for the market as soon as they roll out of the production line. However, this doesn’t mean that the two techniques are mutually exclusive. Rapid prototyping, for example, is done via rapid manufacturing. At the time of its inception, prototyping was the primary production use case for fast manufacturing. Rapid manufacturing is being utilized to create whole end-user components and products, rather than merely prototypes.


Rapid Manufacturing vs Additive Manufacturing

Every rapid manufacturing process includes in itself some form of additive manufacturing. Again, with the help of additive manufacturing technology, businesses can create tailored products. The process involves adding numerous layers of materials to the base of the product until it is finished. What comes out, in the end, can be a fully operational product or a prototype that will help with further adjustments and redesigns on the envisioned product.

Rapid Manufacturing

Particularly suitable for complex designs which would be very expensive to manufacture by using traditional manufacturing methods. Additive manufacturing can best be employed when the product and its components are metal or plastic-based.

This form of production is ideal for a wide range of technical applications. When compared to traditional production, AM is also ideal for lowering overall expenses. And of course, rapid prototyping would be impossible without at least some form of additive manufacturing.


The Methods Of Rapid Manufacturing

Many methods of rapid manufacturing are available for businesses to make use of. But the most popular ones are 3D printing services, CNC machining, and rapid tooling. Let’s get you acquainted with them.


3D Printing

There’s no way around that, in the last 20 years, 3D printing has developed impressively. New printers with enormous capacities are being put to work and the possibilities for businesses are growing exponentially. In fact, it is an additive manufacturing technique that uses mainly plastic as materials, where the printing device applies and adjusts melted plastic which then cools off to create a smooth finish. It is a very important end-product technique in many of today’s industries.

3D Printing

CNC Machining

CNC is the abbreviation for Computerized Numerical Control. It is a subtractive, computerized manufacturing method in which the movement of production equipment is controlled by pre-programmed software and code. Trained workers operate a variety of complicated machinery, including grinders, lathes, and turning mills, which are all used to cut, shape, and manufacture various components and prototypes. CNC machinists use mechanical design, technical drawings, mathematics, and computer programming abilities to create a range of metal and plastic parts on a daily basis. It is one of the most sought-after techniques in the manufacturing industry.


Rapid Tooling

Any method or technique that allows rapid manufacturing of parts that are meant to operate as a tool (most often a die or mold) falls under rapid tooling. They can be produced on-demand, with low costs, and finished and ready to use quite quickly, which is very helpful when the required tool is hard to find on the market. Injection mold tooling is one of the simplest and most used methods.


Final Thoughts

Rapid manufacturing can do wonders for your company. Traditional manufacturing techniques require extensive budgets and are awfully time-consuming. If you have envisioned a low-volume, complex end product, rapid manufacturing is the clear way to go.