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Rapid prototyping

This article is about rapid prototyping of physical objects.

For rapid software prototyping, see rapid application development.
Rapid prototyping is a group of techniques used to

out the typical unfavorable short-run economics. This

economy has encouraged online service bureaus. Historical surveys of RP technology[2] start with discussions
of simulacra production techniques used by 19th-century
sculptors. Some modern sculptors use the progeny technology to produce exhibitions.[5] The ability to reproduce
designs from a dataset has given rise to issues of rights,
as it is now possible to interpolate volumetric data from
one-dimensional images.
As with CNC subtractive methods, the computer-aideddesign - computer-aided manufacturing CAD-CAM
workow in the traditional Rapid Prototyping process
starts with the creation of geometric data, either as a 3D
solid using a CAD workstation, or 2D slices using a scanning device. For RP this data must represent a valid geometric model; namely, one whose boundary surfaces enclose a nite volume, contain no holes exposing the interior,and do not fold back on themselves. In other words,
the object must have an inside. The model is valid if
for each point in 3D space the computer can determine
uniquely whether that point lies inside, on, or outside the
boundary surface of the model. CAD post-processors
will approximate the application vendors internal CAD
geometric forms (e.g., B-splines) with a simplied mathematical form, which in turn is expressed in a specied
data format which is a common feature in Additive Manufacturing: STL (stereolithography) a de facto standard for
transferring solid geometric models to SFF machines. To
obtain the necessary motion control trajectories to drive
the actual SFF, Rapid Prototyping, 3D Printing or Additive Manufacturing mechanism, the prepared geometric
model is typically sliced into layers, and the slices are
scanned into lines [producing a 2D drawing used to
generate trajectory as in CNC`s toolpath], mimicking in
reverse the layer-to-layer physical building process.[2]

A rapid prototyping machine using selective laser sintering

1 Rapid prototyping and production automotive spareparts

3D model slicing

quickly fabricate a scale model of a physical part or assembly using three-dimensional computer aided design
and tested in one year with 3D
(CAD) data.[1][2] Construction of the part or assembly is Electric cars can be built
usually done using 3D printing or additive layer manufacturing technology.[3]

The rst methods for rapid prototyping became available

in the late 1980s and were used to produce models and 2 History
prototype parts. Today, they are used for a wide range of
applications[4] and are used to manufacture production- In the 1970s, Joseph Henry Condon and others at Bell
quality parts in relatively small numbers if desired with- Labs developed the Unix Circuit Design System (UCDS),


automating the laborious and error-prone task of manu- machines were built. Hideo Kodama of Nagoya Munically converting drawings to fabricate circuit boards for the ipal Industrial Research Institute was the rst to publish
purposes of research and development.
an account of a solid model fabricated using a photopoly[2]
In the 1980s U.S. policy makers and industrial man- mer rapid prototyping system (1981). Even at that early
agers were forced to take note that Americas dominance date the technology was seen as having a place in manuin the eld of machine tool manufacturing evaporated, facturing practice. A low resolution, low strength output
in what was named the machine tool crisis. Numer- had value in design verication, mould making, producous projects sought to counter these trends in the tra- tion jigs and other areas. Outputs[9]have steadily advanced
toward higher specication uses.
ditional CNC CAM area, which had begun in the US.
Later when Rapid Prototyping Systems moved out of Innovations are constantly being sought,to improve
labs to be commercialized it was recognized that devel- speed and the ability to cope with mass production
opments were already international and U.S. rapid pro- applications.[10] A dramatic development which RP
totyping companies would not have the luxury of let- shares with related CNC areas is the freeware openting a lead slip away. The National Science Foundation sourcing of high level applications which constitute an enwas an umbrella for the National Aeronautics and Space tire CAD-CAM toolchain. This has created a community
Administration (NASA), the US Department of Energy, of low res device manufacturers. Hobbyists have even
the US Department of Commerce NIST, the US Depart- made forays into more demanding laser-eected device
ment of Defense, Defense Advanced Research Projects designs.[11]
Agency (DARPA), and the Oce of Naval Research coordinated studies to inform strategic planners in their deliberations. One such report was the 1997 Rapid Pro- 3 See also
totyping in Europe and Japan Panel Report[2] in which
Joseph J. Beaman[7] founder of DTM Corporation [DTM
Digital modeling and fabrication
RapidTool pictured] provides a historical perspective :
The roots of rapid prototyping technology can be traced
Fab lab
to practices in topography and photosculpture. Within
Laser engineered net shaping
TOPOGRAPHY Blanther (1892) suggested a layered
method for making a mold for raised relief paper topo Open hardware
graphical maps .The process involved cutting the con Von Neumann universal constructor
tour lines on a series of plates which were then stacked.
Matsubara (1974) of Mitsubishi proposed a topographical process with a photo-hardening photopolymer resin to
form thin layers stacked to make a casting mold. PHO- 4 References
TOSCULPTURE was a 19th-century technique to create exact three-dimensional replicas of objects. Most fa- [1] eFunda, Inc. Rapid Prototyping: An Overview.
mously Francois Willeme (1860) placed 24 cameras in Retrieved 2013-06-14.
a circular array and simultaneously photographed an object.The silhouette of each photograph was then used to [2] NSF JTEC/WTEC Panel Report-RPA http://www.wtec.
carve a replica. Morioka (1935, 1944) developed a hybrid photo sculpture and topographic process using struc- [3] Interview with Dr Greg Gibbons, Additive Manufacturtured light to photographically create contour lines of
ing, WMG, University of Warwick, Warwick University,
an object.The lines could then be developed into sheets
KnowledgeCentre. Accessed 18 October 2013
and cut and stacked, or projected onto stock material for
carving. The Munz(1956) Process reproduced a three- [4] medical applications of rapid prototyping intech
open books
dimensional image of an object by selectively exposing,
layer by layer, a photo emulsion on a lowering piston. Afnew_horizon.pdf
ter xing, a solid transparent cylinder contains an image
[5] sculpture exhibition School of the Art Institute of Chicago
of the object. [8]
The technologies referred to as Solid Freeform Fabrication are what we recognize today as Rapid Prototyping, 3D Printing or Additive Manufacturing: Swainson
(1977), Schwerzel (1984) worked on polymerization of
a photosensitive polymer at the intersection of two computer controlled laser beams. Ciraud (1972) considered
magnetostatic or electrostatic deposition with electron
beam, laser or plasma for sintered surface cladding.
These were all proposed but it is unknown if working
[6] Revolutionary New Electric Car Built and Tested in One
Year with Objet1000 Multi-material 3D Production System
[7] history
[8] JTEC/WTEC Panel Report on Rapid Prototyping in Europe and Japan pg.24

[9] SME Wolhers/

[10] Hayes, Jonathan (2002) Concurrent printing and thermographing for rapid manufacturing: executive summary.
EngD thesis, University of Warwick.. Accessed 18 October 2013
[11] Will 3D Printing Push Past the Hobbyist Market?", Fiscal Times, 2 September 2013. Accessed 18 October 2013

Wright, Paul K. (2001). 21st Century Manufacturing. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc.

External links
Rapid prototyping websites at DMOZ


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