Plastic is one of the more commonly used materials for prototyping. Product development engineers, production consultants, inventors, special project leaders, and retail and production prototype specialist turn to plastics to create their moldings and prototypes.
These people know that plastic can be molded, cut and manipulated in any ways conceivable to create prototypes that would benefit the development of their products. Prototypes from plastic can be drop tested, tested for strength, sterilized, tested for consumer preference and durability, and can be put into actual use in no time at all at bare minimum costs.
With plastic prototyping, designers have different options at their disposal. Designers and developers can use rapid prototyping techniques which have tools like stereolithography, deposition modeling, laser sintering, laminated object manufacturing, and three dimensional printing at its forefront.
All these incorporates the basics of rapid prototyping, each technique creates individual parts from 3D-CAR models and joins them as layers until the final prototype is finished.
Using rapid prototyping techniques allows fast reproduction of prototypes regardless of the complexity of shapes.
However, it could be inexpensive at first but since each part is created individually, production costs may go up as the number of parts needed increases. Also, final output always have rough finish which brings the need to polish each part as they come out of their moldings.
An alternative is rapid injection molding techniques which incorporates the use of metal molds. This technique is able to create plastic parts that are fully functional and have a good finish. Since the molds are made of metal, they are able to support a wider range of resins and can come out as a lot cheaper than rapid prototyping or rapid tooling.
Regardless of the technique, the resulting plastic prototype should encompass the qualities of less production costs and more speed in production. The finished part also must adhere to certain standards.
Any prototype part must mimic the shape, size, finish and even color of the final production part. And any prototype part must at least be similar to the production part’s strength, chemical resistance, flexibility, durability and heat tolerance just to name a few.
Plastic is a very good material to create models which can be assembled, tested and used as close as the production parts.
Using the right prototyping techniques can save you time and money and allow you to simplify your production process, both for the prototype and the actual production unit. Remember that if the prototype is good, the final product could be good as well.