medical device rapid prototyping

What is Rapid Prototyping — Reduce Risk & Accelerate Production

What is Rapid Prototyping

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, meaning that rapid prototyping is a very fast way to test ideas. This allows us to explore parameters such as design, shape, size and assembly 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. The functional prototypes can also undergo rigorous testing, this is because it uses engineering plastics which can produce a prototype close to the quality of the final product.

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 is 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 early in the process so the customer can make amends, in both concept and 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 medical device manufacturing applications. We work to improve the 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. It 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 that 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. Vacuum casting replicates the original fine surface details, 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 UV light.  To create models for vacuum casting where prototypes have a smooth surface, optical clarity and accurate, thin and vertical walls, additional additive techniques are available. Although it is a fast process it does limit its uses. However, if it is the most suitable for your needs we will use it.

Conclusion

Rapid Prototyping is an integral part of our research and development in taking a product from idea, design to production. Europlaz commits 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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