you are in: Prototyping
When clients visit our purpose built workshop, they often comment on the striking combination of technology and people. We believe that the manufacture of good prototypes needs both up to date machine capability and the craftsmanship of skilled model makers. Our constant aim is therefore to combine our kit and our people in the right way to provide the right solution that supports your product development requirements.
Sometimes the technologies involved in Rapid Prototyping are referred to in the media as 3D Printing because rather than using traditional machining processes that remove material to create a part, prototyping machines usually ‘grow’ parts in a variety of innovative ways. The ‘Rapid’ in Rapid Prototyping is possible because these modern technologies can utilise 3D design data to manufacture parts accurately and directly. In many cases components can be built in a few hours or overnight.
Rapid prototyping has changed the way companies and innovators see new product development. With a rapid prototype you have an accurate, cost-efficient model that allows you to identify problems or areas where an improvement needs to be made. This makes product development much quicker, as you can alter the product design and have another rapid prototype ready in much less time than before rapid prototyping.
Most of AME’s equipment is laser-based. In Stereolithography, the laser is used to ‘cure’ a photosensitive liquid resin in layers to create the part.* In Selective Laser Sintering - (SLS), the laser is ‘fusing’ nylon powder in layers to create the part.
These models can be used for design verification before mass production, or after finishing and painting as appearance models to present to potential investors or use for catalogue photography.
If there is a requirement for multiple parts, our in-house team can make silicon rubber tooling from a master model and then vacuum cast up to hundreds of "real" parts in dozens of different materials and colours to replicate the production intent material. These prototypes can be clear or coloured and be produced in elastomeric or rigid polyurethane resins. Where projects require it these PU resins can deliver special requirements such as high temperature resistance, fire retardant properties or UV stability. Being able to produce batches of parts in this way can facilitate more extensive field testing prior to production. The high quality of the vacuum casting process means that it can even be used as a production route for low volume production.
Whatever your prototyping requirement we will be pleased and able to assist, in a timely and cost effective manner. If you have any queries about rapid prototyping or product development, or you want to speak to an expert for advice, then contact us today.
*Parts produced by the Stereolithography process are often referred to as SLA parts. (We think this stands for StereoLithography Apparatus).
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