Rapid prototyping technology, also known as Rapid Prototyping Manufacturing (RPM) technology, was developed in the late 1980s and is a high-tech manufacturing technology based on material stacking. It is considered to be a major achievement in the manufacturing field in the past 20 years.
It integrates mechanical engineering, CAD, reverse engineering technology, layered manufacturing technology, numerical control technology, material science and laser technology. It can automatically, directly, quickly and accurately transform design ideas into prototypes with certain functions or directly manufacture parts. This provides an efficient and low-cost means of achieving prototyping and verification of new design ideas.
The development of rapid prototyping technology has been rapidly developed with its high integration, high flexibility and high speed. Conventional rapid prototyping techniques use a "removal" process that partially removes material from the blank that is larger than the workpiece to obtain the workpiece.
The new rapid prototyping technology uses a “growth” machining method – a layer of small blanks are gradually superimposed into large workpieces, and complex three-dimensional machining is broken down into a simple two-dimensional machining combination. Therefore, the traditional processing machine tools and molds do not need to be used, and the working time is only 10% to 30% of the conventional processing method, and the cost is 20% to 35% of the conventional processing cost, and the product sample or the mold can be directly manufactured.
Due to the above-mentioned outstanding advantages, rapid prototyping has developed rapidly in recent years and has become a pillar technology in modern advanced manufacturing technology and an indispensable means to realize Concurrent Engineering (CE).