Manufacturing companies are adopting new technologies for the product development process. These methods cut down the cost and time involved in creating parts and customizing products. Unlike traditional manufacturing, businesses are seeking innovative ways to bring products to the market much faster.
Rapid manufacturing has become one of these production techniques. It’s an integral part of the design and production process, helping businesses bring their concepts to life quickly and cost-efficiently.
So what’s rapid manufacturing, and how do you choose the right process? Let’s take a closer look.
What is Rapid Manufacturing?
Rapid manufacturing describes different methods and manufacturing processes that contribute to flexible and fast production of end-user parts for low-volume serial manufacturing. This process involves the use of non-conventional tools using the information on the CAD data.
When using traditional manufacturing processes such as injection molding and casting, companies use costly and time-consuming tooling. However, with rapid manufacturing, complex parts can be produced at a lower cost and reduced time frame.
The efficiency of this process requires the use of professional automation software that monitors and controls the manufacturing process. Engineers and designers select the right process or program to use depending on the part to be manufactured.
With rapid manufacturing, there are various processes. These include CNC machining, rapid tooling, and 3D printing services. All these methods use digital designs and software automation to make the manufacturing process much faster.
Rapid Manufacturing vs. Rapid Prototyping Services
Compared to rapid prototyping services, rapid manufacturing produces both models and end products to be used in real-life situations. By using various additive manufacturing processes, the companies can produce functional custom parts.
On the other hand, rapid prototyping is a combination of techniques used by manufacturers to fabricate a prototype during the product development process. With this technology, designers create prototypes fast and execute frequent revisions of the designs for testing.
With the constant advancement of rapid prototyping tools, companies can use similar techniques to create end-use parts. Rapid prototyping services help businesses to substitute traditional manufacturing processes and have a faster turnaround production time.
Rapid Manufacturing vs. Additive Manufacturing
Rapid manufacturing depends on additive manufacturing (AM) techniques to create new parts. These AM technologies create custom parts from a CAD model by adding layer by layer until the product is ready for use.
With additive manufacturing, engineers and designers can create complex designs and prototypes that would be expensive when using traditional manufacturing. Because of this, AM technologies are suitable for various manufacturing applications. They also reduce costs that could have been incurred when using traditional manufacturing methods.
Rapid Manufacturing Methods
Businesses that need to scale their prototypes to final end-use parts require rapid manufacturing techniques. The most common rapid manufacturing services include CNC machining, parts finishing, plastic injection molding, metal casting, and sheet metal fabrication.
Let’s take a look at these methods.
· CNC Machining
CNC machining is a subtractive manufacturing process that involves the use of computer numerical controls. As one of the critical methods in rapid manufacturing, it involves creating parts and removing layers from a block of metal, plastic, or wood. The process either removes materials using milling or turning methods.
CNC tools can work on plastics, soft metals, wood, glass, hard metals, acrylic, stone, and composites. Among those materials, CNC machine for aluminum can be one of the most common machining methods. This makes this method ideal for low-volume manufacturers and makes it well-suited for a wide range of industries.
Manufacturers use CNC machining services because it’s faster and economical for clients that need a few prototypes. However, CNC tools have a more complicated setup. The materials might require special tooling and handling, making the process expensive if you need one-off parts.
· 3D Printing Services
The most commonly used 3D printing services are SLA 3D printing (Stereolithography) and SLS 3D printing (Selective Laser Sintering).
3D printing is one of the most common methods used in rapid manufacturing. Designers and engineers can print the custom clear parts quickly and cost-effectively. As an additive manufacturing process, it combines multiple materials to create parts and can be used on a wide range of materials.
This technology is essential in creating end-user products because it offers different mechanical properties and smooth surface finishes.
· Rapid Tooling
A rapid manufacturing company such as WayKen uses injection molding and vacuum casting processes to enhance the production process. By using rapid tooling, manufacturers can improve on cost-efficiency, flexibility, and scalability. Designers use this method to manufacturing molds for parts.
With rapid tooling, companies can make molds for parts using a wide array of rubber, metal, or plastic materials. Jigs and fixtures are some of the common parts made using this process. It’s also a common method for prototype machining.
How to Choose the Right Rapid Manufacturing Process
As a manufacturer, you have to choose the rapid manufacturing process that fits your client. With the ever-changing technologies, there are new improvements in the materials used, equipment, and production volume. Here’s what you should consider before choosing a process.
· The Material
During manufacturing, the material you choose should be able to withstand the processes. It should also be functional and visually pleasing for your end product.
· The Design
Some parts have a more complex design. Therefore, you should choose a manufacturing process that can handle this complexity.
· The Turnaround Time
Depending on how fast you need the product, you should select a rapid manufacturing process with a suitable turnaround time.
· The Volume of Production
Before settling on a process, consider the volume of production. Some technologies are well suited for a few parts, while others can produce several custom parts.
Getting Started With Rapid Manufacturing Services at WayKen
To get the best rapid manufacturing services, you need to partner with a company with a rich manufacturing experience. WayKen rapid manufacturing integrates all its resources to handle your project’s needs and ensure your parts always meet the highest quality standards.
If you are just getting started on your product development journey, contact us today to get a quote.