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Rapid prototyping, low volume production

Usually the new developed and designed products need to make prototypes. Rapid prototyping is the first step of verifying the feasibility and manufacturability of the product, is the most direct and effective way to find out the defects and disadvantages of the designed products, so as to improve until you can't find the deficiencies from prototypes. At this point, it is usually necessary to carry out low volume production to perform trial production to find out the shortage in the large volume injection molding, so as to improve. There is no 100% perfect product design, and sometimes the designed plastic products can't be normally used. Once there are defects in the large volume injection molding, the all injection molded parts will be scrap, which will waste manpower and material resources and time. The prototypes are generally a small number of samples, the prototype manufacturing cycle is short, and the human and material loss is low. Quickly find out the inadequacies of product design and improve it, and provide sufficient basis for batch injection molding.

The early rapid prototyping were limited by various conditions, mainly because most of the prototypes were done by hand, which made the prototype making cycle long and it was difficult to strictly meet the dimensional requirements of the appearance and structural drawings. So the function of inspecting appearance or structural rationality is also greatly lower.

With the advancement of plastic molding technology, and the rapid development of CAD and CAM technology, which have provided better technical support for rapid prototyping, making the rapid prototyping precision possible. On the other hand, with the increasingly fierce competition in the products manufacturing industry, the development speed of products has increasingly become the main contradiction of competition, and rapid prototyping can effectively improve the speed of product development.
It is in this situation that the rapid prototyping industry has emerged as a relatively independent plastic molding industry and has flourished.

Prototype classification
Prototype can be divided into hand-made prototype and numerical control prototype:
Hand-made prototype: The prototype is made by hand.
Numerical control prototype: The prototype is made by CNC machine tools. According to the equipment used, it can be divided into laser rapid prototyping (RP) and machining center (CNC) prototype. SLA prototype is mainly made by laser rapid prototyping technology. CNC prototype is mainly made by the machining center.

Compared with the CNC prototype, the RP prototype has its own merits:
The advantages of the RP are mainly in its rapidity. But it is mainly formed by the stacking technique. Therefore, the RP prototype is generally relatively rough, and there are certain requirements on the wall thickness of the plastic product. For example, if the wall thickness is too thin, it can't be produced.

The advantage of the CNC prototype is that it can reflect the information expressed by the drawing very accurately, and the surface quality of the CNC prototype is high, especially after the surface coating and silk screen printing is completed. And the quality of CNC prototype is better than that of the plastic products produced by injection mold. Therefore, the manufacture of CNC prototyping has become the mainstream of the prototype manufacturing industry.

In the early days, there was no corresponding equipment, and the numerical control technology was backward. The prototyping was mainly done by hand. The materials and processes have great limitations. There are very few prototypes mad by hand now. The precision of the CNC prototyping is high and the degree of automation is high. The prototypes made by CNC can reflect the effect of large volume injection molding plastic products, and the later part is supplemented with manual grinding and other processes. Therefore, most of the current prototypes are made by CNC machining. 

Advantages of rapid prototyping, low volume production
Inspection of appearance design
The prototype is not only visible, but also touchable. He can intuitively reflect the product designer's ideas in the form of physical objects, avoiding the drawbacks of “drawn product looks good but produced product is bad”. Therefore, the prototype making is indispensable in the process of new product development and product shape inspection.

Inspection of structure design
Because the prototype can be assembled, so it can intuitively reflect the rationality of the product structure and the ease of installation. It is convenient to find problems early and solve problems.

Avoid the risk of directly mold making
Since the mold making cost is generally high, and the relatively large-size plastic mold value is hundreds of thousands or even millions. If the product structure is unreasonable or other problems are found during plastic mold making, the loss will be larger than you can imagine. Prototype manufacturing can avoid this loss and reduce the risk of mold making.

Make the product launch time is greatly advanced
Due to the rapid nature of the prototype making, you can use the prototypes for product promotion before injection mold making and large volume injection molding, and even the pre-sales, so as to lead the market earlier.

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