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Rapid Manufacturing System
Rapid Prototyping System

Buyers´ Guide
envi s ionTEC
Perfactory® Buyers´ Guide
Perfactory® Buyers´ Guide - © envisionTEC Germany - V.2008-04-18
envisionTEC GmbH

Perfactory® Buyers´ Guide

There are a wealth of Rapid Prototyping and 3D
Printing technologies available, almost all of which
use lasers or inkjet heads. The Perfactory® system
from envisionTEC is different.
Introduction to the Perfactory® System
The Perfactory® system builds 3D objects from
liquid resin, like stereolithography, but using a
projector rather than a laser. This projector is almost
identical to those found in high quality presentation
and commercial theatre systems, known as Digital
Light Processor or ‘DLP®’ projectors.
‘Perfactory®’ is the short form of ‘Personal Factory’
and a registrated trade mark of envisionTEC,
Germany. On page 13 you can read in detail how
the Perfactory® system works. For now, here’s the
simplifi ed version! The Perfactory® system works
like a copy station. It builds solid 3D objects by
using the DLP® projector to project sequential
voxel planes into liquid resin, which then causes
the resin to cure from liquid to solid. Each voxel
plane made up of tiny Voxels (volume pixels), with
dimensions as small as 16 μm x 16 μm x 15 μm in
X, Y and Z direction. It’s like building your part
from very small Lego blocks!
With the Perfactory® system you can choose the
balance between feature resolution and build
speed. Dynamic Voxel Thickness gives you control
over z build thicknesses from 15 μm to 150 μm and
the Projector Optics give you control over X and Y
resolution from 16 μm to 68 μm.
If your requirement is for a 3D printer which is
fl exible,
low cost to buy and run,
and which produces parts combining,
excellent surface fi nish, and
superb detail and accuracy,
then you should consider purchasing a Perfactory®

Perfactory® Buyers´ Guide
Why Choose the Perfactory® System
There are some convincing arguments for choosing
the Perfactory® system for your 3D printing
Very High Quality of Parts
The resolution of fi ne detail is unmatched by any
other Rapid Prototyping system, regardless of
price. The dynamic voxel thickness can be as low
as 15 μm.
Very High Speed
By exposing the whole voxel plane in one go, the
system build speed is very fast. This high speed is
independent of the number of parts in the build, or
their complexity, further improving productivity.
Proven Reliability
No jets to block.
No lasers to fail.
Very few moving parts.
DLP® technology is proven in over 13,000,000
The projector bulb lasts up to 1,000 hours of
Highly Versatile
Wide range of materials, for prototyping, casting,
ceramic-fi lled, and more. The biocompatible parts
can be post-fi nished if required – fully dense cured
resin, suitable for vacuum casting master patterns
also, biocompatible parts for direct manufacturing

in mass customization applications such as hearing
aids and digital dental manufacturing, such as
crowns, bridges, and drill guides.
Very Low Cost of Ownership
No inkjet heads to replace.
No expensive lasers to replace.
Minimal supports needed.
No material wasted during build process.
The projector bulb does not costs the world.
Very Easy to Use
Out of the box and ready to build parts in less
than 10 minutes.
Easy to change materials, it only takes a few
Straightforward to use – simple to maintain.
Predictable build times.
Easy-to-install and requires only simple
facilities, less than 0.3 m² fl oor space!

Coming to the Right Decision

envisionTEC GmbH
Key Application Advantages
Here are the key application advantages of the
Perfactory® system:
Upside Down Building
The inverted build platform improves part quality
and speed by
eliminating the need for levelling and recoating
minimising the need for support structures
allowing quick change of materials.
minimal material stockage
No Laser and No Printhead Jetting
The light source is an economical reliable projector
light bulb.

Mask Projection with DLP® Optical
Semiconductor Technology
Accuracy and resolution beyond Laser technology.
High build speeds, regardless of part number
or complexity. DMD® chips have a life time of
about 6 years, when operating the Perfactory®
machine on average for 10 hours a day.
DLP® technology development is driven by the
consumer industry.
Built-in PC and Hard Drive
Having an embedded PC allows for reliable data
The hard drive can store up to 40 jobs in a
Very Few Moving Parts
Less wear and tear, and greater reliability
Easy to position voxel planes for excellent
registration of high detail.

Application Advantages
Perfactory® Buyers´ Guide

Application Areas
Different Application Areas
Four main application areas are the Perfactory® systems predestinated for:
Jewellery Industry, Hearing Aid Industry, Dental Industry, and Toy Industry.
Jewellery Industry
envisionTEC Perfactory® is the number one choice
for jewellery due to the precision and castable
materials offered straight from the machine.
Highly detailed fi ligree and accurate settings are
routinely produced with little or no adjustment to
the machine.
The throughput of the machine is proven to be
unparalleled in the industry. For instance a set of 15
rings can be produced in a castable material within
5 hours! The accuracy achievable is beyond laser
or printing alternative technologies with 15 micron
resolution capability as standard. This makes it the
perfect choice for micro pave or invisible settings.
Hearing Aid Industry
envisionTEC Perfactory® offers a perfect solution
for the Hearing Aid Industry with over eight
biomedically approved materials to offer with
various skin tone colors along with Red, Blue,
Clear and Rose clear, for application ranging from
Ear Molds to Shells with integrated face plates the
Perfactory® DLP® process can supply high quality
parts in bespoke materials. The economics of
running a perfactory make it the preferred choice
for the Hearing Aid Industry with a throughput of
over 30 shells every 90 minutes!
envisionTEC GmbH
Dental Industry
The speed, accuracy and choice of materials from
the Perfactory® DLP® process makes it an ideal
choice for the Dental Industry. Multiple parts can
be processed simultaneously on the Perfactory®
DLP® process. Up to 80 caps and copings can be
produced in under two hours in a castable material
compared to being individually produced by hand
or CNC. Accuracy from the Perfactory® machine
exactly replicates input data resulting in a perfect
fi t of parts.
A range of materials can also be used with the same
machine to produce either wax up components for
casting or ceramic fi lled resins that will produce
direct manufactured cap, copings, crowns etc.
Toy Industry and Animation
The requirement of the Toy, Film and Animation
Industry is for highly detailed models with good
surface fi nish so that models can be used for visual
mock ups, photo/fi lm shoots and master patterns
for molding.
The Perfactory® DLP® process makes it an ideal
choice for this industry as the surface fi nish
of models from the machine means little or no
hand fi nishing of the parts are required, which is
essential on free form textured models.

Application Areas
Perfactory® Buyers´ Guide
Materials for the Perfactory® System
There is a growing range of materials available for
the Perfactory® systems. As material developments
are ongoing please contact us with your requirements
to get the most up-to-date information. However
the summary below gives an idea of the variety of
materials which can be easily and quickly swapped
in and out of the Perfactory®.
envisionTEC PIC 100/300 Series
The envisionTEC PIC 100/300 series is developed
for investment casting, mostly for jewellery and
dental markets. It provides highest quality details
without sacrifi cing on toughness and ease of
While there are other wax-based materials out
there used in model making, they tend to be far
more brittle and harder to handle and fi nish when
compared to the models built on the Perfactory®
systems using the PIC 100 resin. Image building,
e.g. up to 40 rings with different designs in less
than eight hours, that is the speed of Perfactory®
with envisionTEC PIC 100.
envisionTEC R 05 and R 11
The envisionTEC R 05 and envisionTEC R 11 are
liquid, photoactive resins that produce robust,
accurate, and functional parts.
The material offers superior chemical resistance,
a wide processing latitude, and excellent tolerance
to a broad temperature and humidity range during
and after build. Parts created from envisionTEC
R 05 and envisionTEC R 11 exhibit superior
fatigue properties, strong memory retention, and
high quality up-facing and down-facing surfaces.
It also offers a good balance of properties between
rigidity and functionality. envisionTEC R 05 and
envisionTEC R 11 are used for general prototyping,
visualisation and vacuum casting master patterns.
envisionTEC e-Shell 200/300 Series
The envisionTEC e-Shell series is a durable, opaque
skin tone colored resin for use in Perfactory® and
Perfactory Xede / Xtreme® systems. It is developed
for adoption in Hearing Aids and otoplastics.
The parts are CE certifi ed for use as hearing aid
products and Class-IIa biocompatible according to

Materials - Everything is Possible...

envisionTEC GmbH
ISO 10993 (Medical Product Law). The material
is available in different skin tone colors such as
pink, tan, mocca, beige (envisionTEC e-Shell 200
series) and water clear, rosé clear, red and blue
(envisionTEC e-Shell 300 series). envisionTEC e-
Shell series mimics traditional engineering plastic
ABS, which makes it usable in many other nonhearing-
aid applications.
envisionTEC RC 25 (NanoCure)
The envisionTEC RC 25 is a ceramic fi lled resin for
use in Perfactory® and PerfactoryXede / Xtreme®
systems. Parts created with envisionTEC RC 25
have an opaque peach color appearance. It
is developed for applications requiring good
temperature resistance, toughness, and stiffness,
e.g. automotive components, pump housings, wind
tunnel test parts, pump impellers, light refl ectors,
injection molds, hard chrome plating.
envisionTEC SI 500
The envisionTEC SI 500 is a high-speed, liquid
resin that produces fl exible, high-impact-strength,
and accurate parts using Perfactory® systems.
envisionTEC SI 500 has a wide processing latitude
and excellent tolerance to a wide temperature
and humidity range during and after build.
This material is especially useful in functional
applications where extreme fl exibility and impactstrength
are critical requirements, e.g. automobile
panels, electronic enclosures, medical products,
snap-fi t parts, packaging, and plastic bottles.

Materials - Everything is Possible...

Perfactory® Buyers´ Guide
Choosing the Right Perfactory® Model
The Perfactory® consists of two main models, the
Perfactory® Standard and the Perfactory® Mini
Multi Lens system. Both models look identical from
the outside and share many common components.
The difference is in the optics and in the size of
usable build envelope.
Perfactory® Standard
The Perfactory® Standard system with ERM fi tted
with a zoom lens, this model is capable of making
the largest parts. The build envelope can vary from
120 x 90 x 230 mm to 190 x 142 x 230 mm (XYZ
direction) with a dynamic voxel thickness from
25 μm to 150 μm and a build speed up to 20 mm
per hour.
Perfactory® Mini Multi Lens
The Perfactory® Mini Multi Lens system with
ERM is available with a choice of 3 lenses, this
model is ideal for making the fi nest detailed
models. The build envelope varies according to the
selected lens (45 mm x 34 mm to 84 mm x 63 mm),
as does the Voxel resolution in x and y direction.
Lens f=60 mm
30 μm Pixel, XY: 84 mm x 63 mm with ERM
Lens f=75 mm
21 μm Pixel, XY: 59 mm x 44 mm with ERM
Lens f=85 mm
16 μm Pixel, XY: 44 mm x 33 mm with ERM
Dynamic Voxel thickness is from 15 μm to 50 μm
with a build speeds up to 15 mm per hour. There are
other models available, including custom versions.
Please ask if you feel that your application is not
served by the Perfactory® Standard or Perfactory®
Mini Multi Lens.

You Have the Choice – It´s Quite

Unrivalled Feature Resolution
Using different focal length optics on the output of
the projector means we can vary the detail resolution
in X and Y direction. Perfactory® is the only 3D
printing system with this ability, and it means you
can build parts with feature sizes less than to 20 μm.
It‘s even possible to have a special adaptation which
can increase resolution to around 10 μm.
envisionTEC GmbH

You Have the Choice – It´s Quite

Perfactory® Desktop
The Perfactory® Desktop System is designed
to support Rapid Prototyping and Direct
Manufacturing with a low cost, high
resolution solution. Based on the principle of
Photopolymerisation the Perfactory® Desktop
System creates three dimensional resin models
through a patented Digital Light Processing
Utilizing a built in Ethernet® interface the
Perfactory® Desktop machine can easily connect
directly to a PC workstation or be integrated
into a network. The Perfactory® Desktop has an
embedded PC, which allows the system to work
independently from the pre-processing workstation.
The Perfactory® Desktop can be remotely
monitored from any computer on the network using
the communication software from the Perfactory®
Software Suite. Any STL data format can be easily
imported using the Perfactory® Software Suite.
Perfactory® Buyers´ Guide
The PerfactoryXede® and PerfactoryXtreme® three
dimensional Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing
systems allow for the production of exceptionally
large 3D parts at fast build speeds without sacrifi cing
surface quality and part accuracy.
Using state of the art Digital Light Processing
technology from Texas Instruments®, a series of
Voxel Planes is projected from the projector curing
the photopolymer into a solid object where the
image is projected and consequently producing
a highly crisp and detailed accurate part. The
continuous layerless Z build on the PerfactoryXede®
and PerfactoryXtreme® eliminates the part layering
that is visible in other competing layer based Rapid
Prototyping technologies.
The PerfactoryXede® and PerfactoryXtreme®
create three dimensional models that range from
conceptual to the fully functional using many
photopolymer based materials which are like
ABS, Polypropylene, and Glass fi lled Nylon parts.
Photopolymer materials fi lled with Aluminum
Oxide, Zirconium Oxide, Silicon Oxide, and
Paraffi n Wax are also available for use on the new
Perfactory® machines.
The PerfactoryXede® / PerfactoryXtreme® System
can connect directly to a PC workstation or integrated
into a network where pre-processed job fi les can be
transferred. The System has a stand alone PC, which
allows the system to work independently from the
pre-processing workstation.
It can be remotely monitored from any computer on
the network using the communication software that
is integrated into the Perfactory® Software Suite.
Any STL data format can be easily converted into
Voxel Planes using the Perfactory® Software Suite
and then imported into the Perfactory® System to
be built.
The build envelope size ranges from
304 x 228 x 381 mm with the PerfactoryXtreme® to
508 x 337 x 457 mm with the PerfactoryXede®. You
can reach a continuous producing velocity of up to
25 mm per hour in Z directon at a Voxel depth of
50 μm.
You Have the Choice – It´s Quite
envisionTEC GmbH
The Perfactory® Layout
H ow the Perfactory® System Works
Like most 3D printing systems the input data for
the Perfactory® is usually in STL format. The STL
fi le is imported into our own proprietary software
which prepares the build and then creates a series
of voxel planes, which contain individual voxels
known as volumetric pixels varying in thickness
for each single exposure from 15 μm to 150 μm. The
voxel planes are sent to the Perfactory® machine
via an ethernet link, either direct from a PC, or on
a network. The Perfactory® has its own hard disk,
which can store up to 40 jobs in the queue. The
voxel planes are sequentially projected into the
liquid resin using a DLP® projector, at the heart of
which is a DMD® (Digital Micromirror Device).
The light cures the liquid based photopolymer,
turning it into a solid, and as each Voxel Matrix
(projected image with pixels with different gray
scale values) is projected one after the other, a
complete 3Dimensional part is created.

Some Technical Details – If You

3D CAD Model Voxel Cube 3D Solid Model
Perfactory® Buyers´ Guide
Standard Mode
Resolution Mode
The Digital Micromirror Device (DMD®) has been
developed by Texas Instruments® for high quality
digital projection. You will fi nd it in the heart of all
Digital Light Processing (DLP®) projectors, such as
you may use for business, or for cinema. It consists
of around 1.5 million individual mirrors, each
mounted on tiny hinges and can be individually
controlled. The current resolution of the DMD® is
called SXGA+, and it has an array of mirrors 1400 x
1050. Each mirror shown in the following pictures
is only of size 13 μm!
You can fi nd out more about the DLP® process and
its benefi ts at

Cutting-Edge Technologies Included

DMD® and DLP® – Heart of all Perfactory® Systems
Enhanced Resolution Module – ERM
To further improve surface fi nish and accuracy,
most Perfactory® systems are supplied with ERM.
For each voxel built there are two exposures, shifted
by half a pixel, which halves the native resolution
of the system. For instance a Perfactory® system
with a native resolution of 64 μm will build with
a resolution of only 32 μm when using ERM. This
provides excellent surface fi nish, reduces pixilation
effect, and maintains accuracy to the intent of the
3D CAD design.
envisionTEC GmbH
What the Perfactory® Costs to Run
Buying the envisionTEC Perfactory® Rapid
Prototyping and Rapid Manufacturing system is
one thing. But what are the running expenses?
Less than maybe expected.
The Perfactory® uses only 110 V/240 V single
phase electricity, about 5.5 A/2.7 A, so is low cost
to operate. For operation it does not require any
gases, air-conditioning, compressed air or water.
It can be operated in most offi ce and workshop
The main consumables used by the Perfactory® are
the projector light bulb, the basements (trays for
the resin) and the resin. Projector light bulbs last
up to 1,000 hours and can be fi tted by the operator,
so do not need for an engineer visit.
This makes it a low investment to keep multiple
materials in stock. Resins typically have a shelf
life of up to 12 months when kept in the bottle.
Maintenance Contracts
All new Perfactory® systems come with a 12
months parts and labour warranty. Within the
warranty period it is possible to purchase a
comprehensive maintenance contract but this is
purely optional as the Perfactory® needs little or no
maintenance under normal operation. This contract
covers all parts and labour. All customers under
maintenance are entitled to unlimited telephone
and e-mail support. Alternatively you may buy an
annual software and fi rmware upgrade, as well as
phone and Internet support service agreement.
We trust this short document has provided you
with an overview of why the Perfactory® system
is the acknowledged market leader for creating 3D
physical models with high accuracy, high detail
and excellent surface fi nish.
We would be pleased to discuss your application
in more detail, and guide you through choosing
the right combination of hardware, software
and materials. We are always pleased to build
benchmark parts, free-of-charge, to demonstrate
the Perfactory® capabilities.
Please do not hesitate to get in contact with us if
you require any further assistance.
Your envisionTEC Team!

Finally – It Does Not Cost the World

Perfactory® Buyers´ Guide

envisionTEC GmbH
Brüsseler Straße 51
D-45968 Gladbeck ● Germany
Phone +49 2043 98 75-0
Fax +49 2043 98 75-99 ●

Rapid prototyping PARTS FOR
is the name given to a host of related technologies that PROTOTYPE
are used to fabricate physical objects directly from CAD
data sources. These methods are unique in that they add ON DEMAND
and bond materials in layers to form objects. Such  Save time. Get Your
systems are also known by the names additive Parts the Next Day.
fabrication, three dimensional printing, solid freeform  Cut costs. Get an
Instant Quote.
fabrication and layered manufacturing. They offer
advantages in many applications compared to classical  Get answers. Our
knowledgeable staff will find the
subtractive fabrication methods such as milling or right solution to produce your
turning: parts.
Objects can be formed with any geometric complexity
or intricacy without the need for elaborate machine setup
or final assembly;

Objects can be made from multiple materials, or as

composites, or materials can even be varied in a
controlled fashion at any location in an object;
Additive fabrication systems reduce the construction of
complex objects to a manageable, straightforward, and
relatively fast process.
Why is ProtoCAM the
largest service bureau in
These properties have resulted in their wide use as a way to the Eastern US?
reduce time to market in manufacturing. Today's systems are
heavily used by engineers to better understand and
Customer Service
communicate their product designs as well as to make rapid Fast Turnaround
tooling to manufacture those products. Surgeons, architects, Advanced RP
artists and individuals from many other disciplines also Materials
routinely use the technology. Deep Experience

Request a Quote Now...

The names of specific processes themselves are also often - or -
used as synonyms for the entire field of rapid prototyping. Explore ProtoCAM...
Among these are stereolithography (SLA for stereolithography
apparatus), selective laser sintering (SLS), fused deposition
modeling (FDM), laminated object manufacturing (LOM),
inkjet-based systems and three dimensional printing (3DP).
Each of these technologies - and the many other rapid
prototyping processes - has its singular strengths and

Stratasys Rapid Prototyping Upgrades Increase Speed and

Capacity; FDM Titan gets 54% Speed-up; FDM Vantage gets
150% Build Volume Increase
MINNEAPOLIS--Nov. 2, 20036, 2003-- Rapid prototyping system maker, Stratasys, announced
significant upgrades for its T-Class platform. The FDM Titan's(TM) build speed will increase by 54
percent on average, and the FDM Vantage(TM) will receive an optional build volume increase of 150
percent and a doubling of its modeling material capacity.

The FDM Titan upgrade will be previewed December 3 - 6 at Frankfurt's annual Euromould show
by Alphacam, Stratasys' German distributor. The Alphacam stand is in Hall 8.0, stand number L11 /
M10. Upgrade kits will be available to equipment users in mid-December.
FDM TITAN UPGRADE: The FDM Titan upgrade will improve build speeds for all three supported
materials - ABS, PPSF (Polyphenylsulfone), and PC (Polycarbonate). Model resolution is
maintained even though the speed has increased. The amount of speed improvement depends on
a number of factors, including material type, layer thickness, model geometry, model size, and
support style. Not every combination of factors will result in a significant speed improvement. The
larger the model size or layer thickness, the greater the speed improvement. Based on a multi-part
suite of 12 to 18 parts built at a layer thickness of 0.010 inch (0.254 mm), the average build-speed
increase for ABS, PPSF, and PC are 50, 30, and 55 percent respectively. The speed increases can
reach as high as 125 percent with an overall average of 54 percent.

"In most cases, the Titan's build speed exceeds that of our fastest machine, the FDM Maxum,"
says product manager Patrick Robb, "And the part quality remains high."

The speed-improvement upgrade will become a standard feature on new Titans shipped beginning
mid December.

FDM VANTAGE UPGRADE: The larger build chamber available for the FDM Vantage has a
volume 150 percent greater than the existing one, allowing users to create larger prototypes. The
chamber upgrade measures 16 x 14 x 16 in. (406.4 X 355.6 X 406.4 mm) compared with the
existing chamber size of 14 x 10 x 10 in (355.6 x 254 x 254 mm). The upgraded canister bay will
house two additional material canisters: one for modeling material (ABS or PC) and one for support
material. When the first material canister is empty, an auto-changeover function will load the
second canister and continue the build process automatically. This allows users to leave the
machine unattended for long periods of time, unlike some rapid prototyping processes, which
require ongoing attention.

The FDM Vantage was designed to allow this and future upgrades, such as new materials, which
allow the machine to grow in capability as the user's needs expand, extending the life of the
product and protecting the user's investment. The upgrade package will remain an optional
purchase and will not become a standard feature on new systems shipped.

Both Titan and Vantage upgrades will require a field service visit to install new hardware and
software. System users should contact their local sales representative for more details and pricing.

The FDM Titan and FDM Vantage are built on what the company calls its T-Class high-
performance platform, which allows the use of high-temperature, high-performance engineering
thermoplastics. Like all Stratasys FDM systems the T-Class machines require no special facilities
or venting and involve no hazardous materials or by-products.

Stratasys Inc, Minneapolis, manufactured 31% of all rapid prototyping systems installed worldwide
last year, the highest percentage of any manufacturer, according to Wohlers Report 2003. The
company patented the rapid prototyping process known as fused deposition modeling (FDM(R)).
The process creates solid models directly from 3D CAD files using ABS plastic, polycarbonate,
PPSF or other materials. Stratasys manufactures rapid prototyping systems for OEMs such as
aerospace, automotive, defense, consumer, and medical product makers.

This news release contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties.
Introduction of new products and materials are subject to timely completion of development and
timely manufacture, and the success of new products is subject to their operation in the field as
well as customer acceptance. Other risks are detailed from time to time in the Company's SEC
Reports, including the report on Form 10-Q for March 31, June 30, and Sept. 30, 2003 and Form
10-K for the year ended December 31, 2002.

FDM Vantage, is a trademark, and Stratasys is a registered trademark, of Stratasys, Inc.

Stratasys Rapid Prototyping System Used in Brandeis
University's Evolution Project
19 October 2000

Stratasys Rapid Prototyping System Used in Brandeis University's Evolution Project

MINNEAPOLIS--Oct. 18, 2000--Stratasys announced that its rapid prototyping system was used by
Brandeis University scientists when they recently programmed a computer to follow the laws of
evolution and design a basic robot.
After the program allowed the robot design to evolve through 600 design generations, the computer
sent the fittest design to the Stratasys Genisys 3D Printer, a rapid prototyping system, which built the
3-dimensional structure from the computer's design file, requiring no tooling or human intervention.
The successful automated evolution and construction project is a giant leap for artificial intelligence.
About Stratasys: Founded in 1989, Stratasys is a manufacturer of rapid prototyping devices for
industrial-, consumer-, and medical-product OEMs. The company's patented Fused Deposition
Modeling process creates solid models directly from 3D CAD files using ABS plastic, wax, elastomer,
or polyester compound. For the last three years combined, Stratasys shipped more RP systems than
any other manufacturer.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

For other uses, see Prototype (disambiguation).
This article's introduction section may not adequately summarize its contents.
To comply with Wikipedia's lead section guidelines, please consider expanding
the lead to provide an accessible overview of the article's key points. (October
A prototype is an original type, form, or instance of something serving as a typical
example, basis, or standard for other things of the same category. The word derives from
the Greek πρωτότυπον (prototypon), "primitive form", neutral of πρωτότυπος
(prototypos), "original, primitive", from πρῶτος (protos), "first" and τύπος (typos),


• 1 Semantics
• 2 Basic prototype categories
• 3 Differences between a prototype and a production design
• 4 Characteristics and limitations of prototypes
• 5 Modern trends
• 6 Mechanical and electrical engineering
• 7 Electronics prototyping
• 8 Computer programming/computer science
• 9 Prototype, software prototyping and alpha software
• 10 Scale modeling
• 11 Metrology
• 12 Pathology
• 13 Advantages and disadvantages
o 13.1 Advantages of prototyping
o 13.2 Disadvantages of prototyping
• 14 See also

• 15 References

[edit] Semantics
In semantics, prototypes or proto instances combine the most representative attributes of
a category. Prototypes are typical instances of a category that serve as benchmarks
against which the surrounding, less representative instances are categorized (see
Prototype Theory).

In many fields, there is great uncertainty as to whether a new design will actually do what
is desired. New designs often have unexpected problems. A prototype is often used as
part of the product design process to allow engineers and designers the ability to explore
design alternatives, test theories and confirm performance prior to starting production of
a new product. Engineers use their experience to tailor the prototype according to the
specific unknowns still present in the intended design. For example, some prototypes are
used to confirm and verify consumer interest in a proposed design whereas other
prototypes will attempt to verify the performance or suitability of a specific design
In general, an iterative series of prototypes will be designed, constructed and tested as the
final design emerges and is prepared for production. With rare exceptions, multiple
iterations of prototypes are used to progressively refine the design. A common strategy is
to design, test, evaluate and then modify the design based on analysis of the prototype.

In many products it is common to assign the prototype iterations Greek letters. For
example, a first iteration prototype may be called an "Alpha" prototype. Often this
iteration is not expected to perform as intended and some amount of failures or issues are
anticipated. Subsequent prototyping iterations (Beta, Gamma, etc.) will be expected to
resolve issues and perform closer to the final production intent.

In many product development organizations, prototyping specialists are employed -

individuals with specialized skills and training in general fabrication techniques that can
help bridge between theoretical designs and the fabrication of prototypes.

[edit] Basic prototype categories

There is no general agreement on what constitutes a "prototype" and the word is often
used interchangeably with the word "model" which can cause confusion. In general,
“prototypes” fall into four basic categories:

Proof-of-Principle Prototype (Model) (also called a breadboard). This type of prototype

is used to test some aspect of the intended design without attempting to exactly simulate
the visual appearance, choice of materials or intended manufacturing process. Such
prototypes can be used to “prove” out a potential design approach such as range of
motion, mechanics, sensors, architecture, etc. These types of models are often used to
identify which design options will not work, or where further development and testing is

Form Study Prototype (Model). This type of prototype will allow designers to explore
the basic size, look and feel of a product without simulating the actual function or exact
visual appearance of the product. They can help assess ergonomic factors and provide
insight into visual aspects of the product's final form. Form Study Prototypes are often
hand-carved or machined models from easily sculpted, inexpensive materials (e.g.,
urethane foam), without representing the intended color, finish, or texture. Due to the
materials used, these models are intended for internal decision making and are generally
not durable enough or suitable for use by representative users or consumers.

Visual Prototype (Model) will capture the intended design aesthetic and simulate the
appearance, color and surface textures of the intended product but will not actually
embody the function(s) of the final product. These models will be suitable for use in
market research, executive reviews and approval, packaging mock-ups, and photo shoots
for sales literature.

Functional Prototype (Model) (also called a working prototype) will, to the greatest
extent practical, attempt to simulate the final design, aesthetics, materials and
functionality of the intended design. The functional prototype may be reduced in size
(scaled down) in order to reduce costs. The construction of a fully working full-scale
prototype and the ultimate test of concept, is the engineers' final check for design flaws
and allows last-minute improvements to be made before larger production runs are

[edit] Differences between a prototype and a production

In general, prototypes will differ from the final production variant in three fundamental

Materials. Production materials may require manufacturing processes involving higher

capital costs than what is practical for prototyping. Instead, engineers or prototyping
specialists will attempt to substitute materials with properties that simulate the intended
final material.

Processes. Often expensive and time consuming unique tooling is required to fabricate a
custom design. Prototypes will often compromise by using more flexible processes.

Lower fidelity. Final production designs often require extensive effort to capture high
volume manufacturing detail. Such detail is generally unwarranted for prototypes as some
refinement to the design is to be expected. Often prototypes are built using very limited
engineering detail as compared to final production intent.

[edit] Characteristics and limitations of prototypes

Engineers and prototyping specialists seek to understand the limitations of prototypes to
exactly simulate the characteristics of their intended design. A degree of skill and
experience is necessary to effectively use prototyping as a design verification tool.

It is important to realize that by their very definition, prototypes will represent some
compromise from the final production design. Due to differences in materials, processes
and design fidelity, it is possible that a prototype may fail to perform acceptably whereas
the production design may have been sound. A counter-intuitive idea is that prototypes
may actually perform acceptably whereas the production design may be flawed since
prototyping materials and processes may occasionally outperform their production

In general, it can be expected that individual prototype costs will be substantially greater
than the final production costs due to inefficiencies in materials and processes. Prototypes
are also used to revise the design for the purposes of reducing costs through optimization
and refinement.
It is possible to use prototype testing to reduce the risk that a design may not perform
acceptably, however prototypes generally cannot eliminate all risk. There are pragmatic
and practical limitations to the ability of a prototype to match the intended final
performance of the product and some allowances and engineering judgement are often
required before moving forward with a production design.

Building the full design is often expensive and can be time-consuming, especially when
repeated several times—building the full design, figuring out what the problems are and
how to solve them, then building another full design. As an alternative, "rapid-
prototyping" or "rapid application development" techniques are used for the initial
prototypes, which implement part, but not all, of the complete design. This allows
designers and manufacturers to rapidly and inexpensively test the parts of the design that
are most likely to have problems, solve those problems, and then build the full design.

This counter-intuitive idea —that the quickest way to build something is, first to build
something else— is shared by scaffolding and the telescope rule.

[edit] Modern trends

With the recent advances in computer modeling it is becoming practical to eliminate the
creation of a physical prototype (except possibly at greatly reduced scales for
promotional purposes), instead modeling all aspects of the final product as a computer
model. An example of such a development can be seen in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, in
which the first full sized physical realization is made on the series production line.
Computer modeling is now being extensively used in automotive design, both for form
(in the styling and aerodynamics of the vehicle) and in function — especially for
improving vehicle crashworthiness and in weight reduction to improve mileage.

[edit] Mechanical and electrical engineering

A prototype of the Polish economy hatchback car Beskid 106 designed in the 1980s.
Main article: rapid prototyping

The most common use of the word prototype is a functional, although experimental,
version of a non-military machine (e.g., automobiles, domestic appliances, consumer
electronics) whose designers would like to have built by mass production means, as
opposed to a mockup, which is an inert representation of a machine's appearance, often
made of some non-durable substance.

An electronics designer often builds the first prototype from breadboard or stripboard or
perfboard, typically using "DIP" packages.

However, more and more often the first functional prototype is built on a "prototype
PCB" almost identical to the production PCB, as PCB manufacturing prices fall and as
many components are not available in DIP packages, but only available in SMT packages
optimized for placing on a PCB.

Builders of military machines and aviation prefer the terms "experimental" and "service

[edit] Electronics prototyping

In electronics, prototyping means building an actual circuit to a theoretical design to
verify that it works, and to provide a physical platform for debugging it if it does not. The
prototype is often constructed using techniques such as wire wrap or using veroboard or
breadboard, that create an electrically correct circuit, but one that is not physically
identical to the final product.

Open-source tools exist to document electronic prototypes (especially the breadboard-

based ones) and move forward toward production such as Fritzing and Arduino.

A technician can build a prototype (and make additions and modifications) much quicker
with these techniques —however, it is much faster and usually cheaper to mass produce
custom printed circuit boards than these other kinds of prototype boards. This is for the
same reasons that writing a poem is fastest by hand for one or two, but faster by printing
press if you need several thousand copies.

The proliferation of quick-turn pcb fab companies and quick-turn pcb assembly houses
has enabled the concepts of rapid prototyping to be applied to electronic circuit design. It
is now possible, even with the smallest passive components and largest fine-pitch
packages, to have boards fabbed and parts assembled in a matter of days.

[edit] Computer programming/computer science

This section's factual accuracy is disputed. Please see the relevant discussion
on the talk page. (May 2008)
Main article: Software prototyping

In many programming languages, a function prototype is the declaration of a subroutine

or function. (This term is rather C/C++-specific; other terms for this notion are signature,
type and interface.) In prototype-based programming (a form of object-oriented
programming), new objects are produced by cloning existing objects, which are called

The term may also refer to the Prototype Javascript Framework.

Additionally, the term may refer to the prototype design pattern.

Prototype software is often referred to as alpha grade, meaning it is the first version to
run. Often only a few functions are implemented, the primary focus of the alpha is to
have a functional base code on to which features may be added. Once alpha grade
software has most of the required features integrated into it, it becomes beta software for
testing of the entire software and to adjust the program to respond correctly during
situations unforeseen during development.

Often the end users may not be able to provide a complete set of application objectives,
detailed input, processing, or output requirements in the initial stage. After the user
evaluation, another prototype will be built based on feedback from users, and again the
cycle returns to customer evaluation. The cycle starts by listening to the user, followed by
building or revising a mock-up, and letting the user test the mock-up, then back. There is
now a new generation of tools called Application Simulation Software which help
quickly simulate application before their development.

Extreme programming uses iterative design to gradually add one feature at a time to the
initial prototype.

Continuous learning approaches within organizations or businesses may also use the
concept of business or process prototypes through software models.

[edit] Prototype, software prototyping and alpha

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concerns may be found on the talk page. See Wikipedia's guide to writing better
articles for suggestions. (March 2009)
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Many argue over the fact that prototype software and alpha software is not the same
things, due to the fact that they more or less are the same thing. The only differences
between them are in general that prototype software is referred to as alpha software since
the word and the meaning of the word prototype is in general used when one is talking
about a physical showreel, or in some cases a simulation whereas the cost of making a
full scale or a random size scale of the concept that was initially introduced in the start of
the project.

For further more clarification on the subject of what a prototype is we can look at this
comparisons since every project has different stages as to what or where they are in
development.(take in consideration that these might not be 100% accurate)

Hardware Software Explanation

*Concept *Concept *Idea
*Proof of Concept *Proof of Concept *Possible ways to show
that the theory behind the concept is functional.
May not even work at
all, but just show whether or not it is possible to create.
*Prototype *Alpha *First version of product
meant for showreels and testing purposes ONLY.
Also here it might not
work as a program or unit, but it is to give the visual presentation
of a possibly real
*Work In Progress *Work In Progress *Several different stages
of development.
*??? *Beta *As for Beta, it is used
for software that is almost complete, but still needs some fixing
and is often done by
feed back from a random selection of people(or you can sign up for as a
beta tester), but in
general a testing product that is to be treated as NOT DONE.
(no data on equal term
for Hardware)
*??? *Release Candidate *More commonly known of
and used by Microsoft under development of new Operating System
(ex. Windows Longhorn,
Vista, Blackcombe, Seven) to show the masses that the product is within
the last stages before
it is released as "Finale Product". Known to have been several RC's.
(Look up Windows ME and
comparisons to Windows Vista on unfinished and rushed OS's.)
*Final Product *Final Product *Product that has been
tested both within closed test groups and open test groups. May still
contain a few small
issues, but in general it is a complete working product that will work
it is made for, for the
majority of the users. If the issues gradually become an increasing
problem measures like
"patches" and "bug fixes" are created for software products, and
"repair", "swaps" and/or
"recall and destruction" of hardware is set in motion to save
the reputation of the

But remember that new, updated versions of the products may also be distributed, ex.
videogames will get bug fixes and possibly extra content which will be packed as a new,
same, but "fixed" product, under a slightly different name like "Game of the Year" or
"Special Edition"(not to be confused with an eventual "Special Edition" that may have
been released when the game first launched, containing extra stuff from or for the game
as promotion), and hardware might be modified and released under the name of the
company that modifies it. Like Shelby is to Mustang, AMG is to Mercedes and Top
Secret is to other cars.

This is just a more commonly used way of the word prototype(as to not being software),
but in general alpha and prototype is the same thing.

Nowadays, the difference between Software Prototype and Alpha versions increase when
the prototypes are built with an Agile prototyping tool[2] and the final software is
developed with any coding language.

[edit] Scale modeling

In the field of scale modeling (which includes model railroading, vehicle modeling,
airplane modeling, military modeling, etc.), a prototype is the real-world basis or source
for a scale model—such as the real EMD GP38-2 locomotive—which is the prototype of
Athearn's (among other manufacturers) locomotive model. Technically, any non-living
object can serve as a prototype for a model, including structures, equipment, and
appliances, and so on, but generally prototypes have come to mean full-size real-world
vehicles including automobiles (the prototype 1957 Chevy has spawned many models),
military equipment (such as M4 Shermans, a favorite among US Military modelers),
railroad equipment, motor trucks, motorcim a doodie facenes, and space-ships (real-
world such as Apollo/Saturn Vs, or the ISS).

There is debate whether 'fictional' or imaginary items can be considered prototypes (such
as Star Wars or Star Trek starships, since the feature ships themselves are models or
CGI-artifacts); however, humans and other living items are never called prototypes, even
when they are the basis for models and dolls (especially - action figures).

As of 2005, conventional rapid prototype machines cost around £25,000.[1]

[edit] Metrology
In the science and practice of metrology, a prototype is a human-made object that is used
as the standard of measurement of some physical quantity to base all measurement of that
physical quantity against. Sometimes this standard object is called an artifact. In the
International System of Units (SI), the only prototype remaining in current use is the
International Prototype Kilogram, a solid platinum-iridium cylinder kept at the Bureau
International des Poids et Mesures (International Bureau of Weights and Measures) in
Sèvres France (a suburb of Paris) that by definition is the mass of exactly one kilogram.
Copies of this prototype are fashioned and issued to many nations to represent the
national standard of the kilogram and are periodically compared to the Paris prototype.
Until 1960, the meter was defined by a platinum-iridium prototype bar with two scratch
marks on it (that were, by definition, spaced apart by one meter), the International
Prototype Metre, and in 1983 the meter was redefined to be the distance in free space
covered by light in 1/299,792,458 of a second (thus defining the speed of light to be
299,792,458 meters per second).

It is widely believed that the kilogram prototype standard will be replaced by a definition
of the kilogram that will define another physical constant (likely either Planck's constant
or the elementary charge) to a defined constant, thus obviating the need for the prototype
and removing the possibility of the prototype (and thus the standard and definition of the
kilogram) changing very slightly over the years because of loss or gain of atoms.

[edit] Pathology
In pathology, prototype refers to a disease, virus, etc which sets a good example for the
whole category. For example, the vaccina virus is regarded as the virus prototype of

[edit] Advantages and disadvantages

[edit] Advantages of prototyping

• May provide the proof of concept necessary to attract funding

• Early visibility of the prototype gives users an idea of what the final system looks
• Encourages active participation among users and producer
• Enables a higher output for user
• Cost effective (Development costs reduced)
• Increases system development speed
• Assists to identify any problems with the efficacy of earlier design, requirements
analysis and coding activities
• Helps to refine the potential risks associated with the delivery of the system being
• Various aspects can be tested and quicker feedback can be got from the user
• Helps to deliver the product in quality easily
• User interaction available in during development cycle of prototype

[edit] Disadvantages of prototyping

• Producer might produce a system inadequate for overall organization needs

• User can get too involved whereas the program can not be to a high standard
• Structure of system can be damaged since many changes could be made
• Producer might get too attached to it (might cause legal involvement)[verification needed]
• Not suitable for large applications
• Over long periods, can cause loss in consumer interest and subsequent
cancellation due to a lack of a market (for commercial products)

[edit] See also

• Archetype
• Boilerplate (rocketry)
• Car design
• Mock-up
• Modello
• Pilot (experiment)
• Proof of concept
• Fpga prototype
• Rapid prototyping
• Rapid Application Development
• Software Prototyping
• Show car

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Prototype

Look up prototype in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

[edit] References
1. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary
2. ^ List of Agile Prototyping tools

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