Built directly from a 3D CAD File, rapid prototypes do not require any type of tooling, and are the ideal way to test new designs and limit the time and cost associated with bringing a new product to market. Modern advances in materials continue to provide more options to test for fit, form, and function, and can often receive secondary processing such as painting, plating, and clear coating.
The greatest benefit of creating rapid prototypes is the ability to quickly test a variety of concepts and designs. Evaluating a representative part in your hands will tell you a lot more than viewing it in the CAD environment. This can help save time and prevent costly mistakes, and ultimately yield a better overall design.
Keep in mind that designing and rapid prototyping is an iterative process. It is extremely rare that a design would be considered perfect and complete right from the very start. It is more common that an initial design receives testing, evaluation and feedback, and is then ultimately refined further. This helps identify issues earlier in the design cycle, reducing expense and time by avoiding redesign and rework further down the road, ultimately reducing the time required to bring the product to the market.
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