According to E. Sachs two needs, which are key to industrial productivity and competitiveness, are the reduction in time to market for new products and the flexible manufacture of products in small quantities . A factor that contributes to the product design process is the development of prototypes, defined as a base model that can be tested and exhibits characteristics that can only be seen only when there is a physical product. This stage also allows clients to test ideas and provide feedback, which can enhance the final product.
One term used in the manufacturing process is Rapid Prototyping (RP), which describes a process for rapidly creating a system or part representation before final release or commercialization. Although as the technologies have been developing, users have notice that this term does not effectively describe more recent applications of the technologies. The basic principle of these RP technologies is that they all fabricate parts using an additive approach; this is one of the reasons why recently adopted ASTM consensus standards now use the term Additive Manufacturing (AM) for these processes .
A key difference that we can observe is that in the mentioned processes, instead of having a piece of raw material and using tools to cut, drill and remove parts from it until obtaining a desired shape, these techniques build the product layer by layer and thus generate little to no waste compared to traditional methods. Whereas elimina...
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... which offers the advantage of working with ceramics and advanced alloys, can be used to fabricate products for high-end applications that require good mechanical and thermal properties, like the aerospace industry or the luxury cars sector. FMD on the other hand goes to a more common range of industries; the products made from this process although are of good mechanical properties they are not capable of withstand high temperatures or loads.
Nonetheless rather than considering them simple prototyping processes, they have evolved rapidly and are now capable of delivering fully functional products and even improving some areas with their inherent characteristic of additive manufacture. Nowadays there are few industries taking part in this radical change, however as the technology spreads and becomes cheaper, SLS and FDM would lead the next manufacturing revolution.
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