Testing & Functionality of CNC, 3D Printing and Hybrid Prototype Making

Prototype or model making is a significant process in product design and manufacturing. A prototype is a basic version of any device or part, which serves as the basis of mass volume production. It helps users understand the working of the device in a real environment. The prototypes are today made using various techniques such as CNC, 3D printing, and hybrid modeling. As these processes are quite similar to each other in many ways, the selection of the right technique will be difficult. Yet with testing and functionality of CNC, 3D print and hybrid processes, it can be selected effectively. This post guides you through the advantages and disadvantages of the CNC machining, 3D printing & hybrid process techniques that help you to select an appropriate technique.

Introduction to Prototype Making Techniques

Three major techniques are often utilized in the prototype making processes, such as CNC, 3D printing, and hybrid modeling. To select an appropriate one out of these three, one needs to understand the advantages and drawbacks of each technique. Let’s discuss these three techniques in detail.

  • CNC for prototype making:

    Computer numerical control (CNC) machines are utilized to convert computer-generated data into solid objects. It basically interprets the CAD modeled details and translates it to manufacturing. It is a subtractive process, which the material is removed from the workpiece during machining. Due to the subtractive mechanism, the finest features can be manufactured by this technique. The biggest advantage of CNC prototype making is that during the material removal process, fine and frequent revision of material removal is performed. This allows the method to be precise and highly compatible with the CAD model. It offers higher functional precision to the final prototype because the functionality of the prototype is already tested by a CAD model. Therefore, from the CAD model to the CNC manufactured prototype we get the look-alike and work-alike model.

  • The CNC prototype manufacturing makes a strongly suitable option for operational testing & functionality of CNC prototypes.

  • 3D printing for prototype making:

    3D printing is an additive manufacturing process. The prototypes are created through thin layer material addition according to the sections of CAD models. This technique is fast and it requires skilled but minimum labor. Also, once the setup is done and the 3D printing manufacturing process has started, the operator can leave the setup for a couple of hours, which reduces human and time expenses. It also offers manufacturing of small to huge prototypes, which makes it advantageous for complex and scalable part manufacturing. This technique is often utilized to test if the part design requires any modifications. It allows multiple product manufacturing at a time, therefore it ultimately reduces operational cost.

  • Availability of the 3D printing material limits the application of 3D printing in prototype production.

  • Hybrid modeling for prototype making:

    Hybrid modeling or hybrid prototype making is an alternative technique for manufacturing and testing the functionality of prototypes. This technique is suitable for both hardware and software prototypes. It allows real-life interconnection of software with the functioning hardware in order to test the functional compatibility. It allows easy and quick debugging of the software products while flaw detection in hardware prototypes is also convenient. It offers a virtual visualization window to test the functionality. The most important thing is fully rectified model of the prototype can be manufactured with only a single sheet of material in this technique.

  • Despite the discussion, the selection also depends upon the prototype and operational requirements of your part. Therefore, if you are looking for a suggestion to select a prototype making technique and get it professionally done, then you should go for experienced and trusted service providers. BDE, Inc. is a CNC Machine Shop in Portland that offers professional prototype making services. They have been actively serving this industry for several years. Their customer range is vast as they serve the aerospace, semiconductor, military, marine, architectural and many more industries.

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