Building die cast or investment cast shapes from metal normally takes weeks of production. However, modern metal prototyping technology offers a much faster and more cost-effective solution in the form of rapid prototypes. Indeed, a rapid prototyping machine can produce even the most complex metal shapes in as short a period as a single afternoon.
What Is Rapid Prototyping?
The 3D rapid prototyping process combines 3D CAD models and specialized printing machines that cut and additively sinter metal. Applications for rapid prototypes include prototypes, machine parts and production tools.
The specialized printers used for metal prototyping utilize an additive manufacturing technology known as direct metal laser sintering or DMLS. This process allows for highly complex geometries including curved or spiraled shapes with cavities and undercuts. The types of metals that can be used in 3D prototyping include aluminum, stainless steel and titanium.
As the name “rapid prototypes” suggests, turnaround times are often much faster than using traditional methods for producing metal shapes. A finished part can be created within just a few hours depending upon the size of the desired 3D prototype.
How Are Rapid Prototypes Created?
- A 3D model is created, using a CAD workstation and an .stl (or STereoLithography) file is then extracted from the model.
- The operating technician will utilize this model to properly align the geometry and add support structures for the purpose of part building.
- 2D slices are created from the prepared model and scanned into the software utilized by the rapid prototyping machine.
- Rapid prototyping metal is created by way of fusing layers of fine, thin metal powder together at high temperatures to form a solid part.
- Parts are built up layer-by-layer, resulting in a time-effective and relatively inexpensive 3D prototype from metal.
3D Rapid Prototyping Machine Applications
- Metal washers
- Precision and/or clip springs
- Metal stampings
- Sheet metal fabrications
- Wire forms
- And more!
Contact us today to learn more about how the rapid prototyping services of Atlantic Precision can be an asset for your next project.