Using Computer Aided Design, also known as CAD, Rapid Prototyping allows you to create a model or part. This allows you to simulate or test the functionality of your medical device design, before you move to the next step: manufacture.
Rapid Prototyping Applications
Rapid Prototyping is applicable to a wide range of technologies and techniques making it a favourable process with our design and development teams at Europlaz. Some of the techniques utilised at Europlaz are;
● Concepts: CAD, alongside additive manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing, mean that rapid prototyping is a very fast way to test ideas. Parameters such as design, shape, size and assembly can be explored to find the best possible iteration.
● Proof-of-concept models: Help designers validate their ideas and test viability, where usability and quality aren’t the main concern. 3D printing allows for the generation of more concepts, faster.
● Functional Prototypes: Not only can working prototypes help you conceptualise the feel of your product, but they can reveal functional issues with the design. As additive manufacturing is a fast yet accurate process, it allows our designers and engineers to zero in on the details of the product. Using engineering plastics can produce a prototype close to the quality of the final product, and, therefore, can be used in rigorous testing.
● Pre-manufacturing: Not only does rapid prototyping make the design-for-manufacture process simpler and faster, it reduces manufacturing costs as aesthetic, functionality and process are balanced. Production parts can also be 3D printed to test functionality.
Benefits of Using Rapid Prototyping
There are three key benefits to rapid prototyping. Firstly, it can minimise design revisions and lead times. Rapid prototyping is an extremely fast way of testing ideas and design functionality, both using CAD and real models. Tactility in the design process means that flaws unique to the feel of the product can be discovered and rectified. What this also means is that product refinement is easier. Designers can receive feedback relatively early in the process, so that the final design is amended not just in concept, but function. Intuitive visual design, rather than verbal descriptions, is the result of this. Finally, rapid prototyping accelerates the production process, saving cost and time. Because the design process is faster, and more efficient, production is smoother and more informed.
Processes Europlaz Adopts
We use the latest medical device design technology, providing advanced surfacing and completely integrated manufacturing applications. We work to improve effectiveness, time and manufacturing efficiency of our medical devices. Mould flow analysis and polymer selection are used alongside the following techniques to provide the most advanced rapid prototyping. Some processes are subcontracted but still managed by Europlaz.
3D Printing: We produce prototypes, fixtures, jigs and mock-ups of your medical device using a 3D printer. With a full suite of materials at our disposal, we can replicate materials from rubber through to metal, and offer very short lead times. This process is also commonly essential to many of the other processes listed here.
Vacuum forming: This process uses 3D-printed patterns, and reduces the waste produced as it heats a plastic sheet then forms it into shape around a tool. We use this process when it is appropriate for the design, or as one part of the rapid prototyping process.
CNC Machining: A subtractive method which uses digital milling machines to cut directly into a mass of material. It helps to identify difficult-to-machine features of a design, and can accommodate a wide range of materials. It produces an easy-to-test part.
Vacuum casting: Using pourable casting resins and reusable silicone moulds, perfect copies of master patterns, which tend to be 3D designed, are produced. Fine surface details are replicated from the original, which makes it helpful for some intricate designs.
Stereolithography: Also known as Vat Photopolymerization, this fast and affordable technique uses a bath of light-sensitive liquid which is solidified in layers using a UV light. Another additive technique, it can be used to create models for vacuum casting where prototypes have a smooth surface, optical clarity and accurate, thin and vertical walls. Although it is a fast process it is limited in its uses. However, if it is the most suitable for your needs we will use it.
Rapid Prototyping is an integral part of our research and development in taking a product from idea, design to production. Europlaz are committed to finding the right technique to produce your prototype quickly, cost-effectively and accurately. Because of the many uses and benefits of rapid prototyping, we are adept at many techniques, with the capacity to work in a range of materials. If you are interested in our medical device prototyping services as a part of manufacturing, please contact us.
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