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ABOUT RAPID PROTOTYPING

 

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The applications of rapid prototyping are constantly growing.  Many industries are implementing this new technology.  Benefits of rapid prototyping include enhanced visualization capability, decreases in cost and cycle time associated with the fabrication of prototype parts, increased ability to calculate mass properties and detect design flaws before hardware fabrication, and increased part optimization and development prior to prototyping.

Rapid prototyping technologies considerably reduce the time used to market products.  This model making technology uses no tooling to manufacture prototypes.  CAD easily accommodates engineering changes.  A company can keep up with the changing market by using the latest Concurrent Engineering (CE) technologies.  Objects with shapes that are more complex and intricate can be built with the aid of RP, with less potential for human error.  A single rapid prototyping (RP) system can overcome the complexity and expense of using multiple machine tools. 

The reduction in time to market of a product provides a reduction in consumer product costs.  The potential to reduce development costs can reduce the final product cost for the consumer, providing the possibility of an even stronger market share.  Inventory decreases can also be achieved, because the object can be produced on a need-only basis.  Cost, delivery and time to market are still critical issues.  Figure below shows, it is actually more important to get a new product on the market as soon as possible than to stick to the budget.  The new product will generate an income as soon as it is introduced to the market.  If the product appears 6 months late on the market, 33% of the profit could be lost.  If the product is 9% overpriced, 22% of the profit could be lost.  If the development budget is 50% overspent, but the product is on the market in time, only 3.5% of the profit could be lost, according to the McKinsey & Company (USA electronics industry) study. 

Thus, if the new product appears six months too late on the market, up to 33% of the gross profit could be lost according to the Gallup study.  RP technology and concurrent engineering could insure that the product is marketed just in time.

The process requirements for rapid time-to-market results are:

         A clear understanding of the customer needs at the start of the project and stability in product requirements or specifications.

          A characterized and optimized product development process.

         A realistic project plan based on the best and most cost-effective technological solution.

          The availability of resources to support the project and use of full-time dedicated personnel.

         Concurrent engineering principles

  • Fixed goal posts, to minimize the design content of the project.

The chart in above shows the results of a survey that indicates the top three reasons for slippage in product development schedules resulting in time-to-market delays.

 


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