Plastic is utilized worldwide for daily necessities for prototype manufacturing and products. The medical industry and many other sectors use plastic prototype fabrication using state-of-the-art machines and techniques.
These prototypes match exactly like the final product visually and functionally.
If you need more information about plastic prototyping fabrication, this article has all you need to know about its properties, benefits, costs and more.
Why is Plastic Prototype Important for Manufacturing?
Plastic prototypes are designed to check whether or not your finalized part meets your desired requirements. Any visual or functional defect in the prototype means the end product will lack desired features or functions.
Therefore, one designs the prototypes to produce selected products in large-scale production without facing any loss.
Basic features may include structure, shape, size, or other dimensions. It also tells us about the performance of the product. If you start manufacturing a specific product without creating a prototype, it will increase the chances of production of a defaulted product.
You may need to make changes during manufacturing, such as tool modifications; otherwise, it can result in immeasurable loss. Designing a prototype will allow you to make changes according to your needed product.
After producing a prototype, you only need to undergo an efficient manufacturing process to create unlimited desirable accurate, specific products lacking defects.
Plastic prototyping is a vital process for product development, and the creation of prototypes is the foremost step in the process of parts fabrication.
First, you may need to test the design to formalize plans, and then CAD model requisitioning can accomplish this process. A CAD model is a mockup of your visualization and how your product will appear after manufacturing.
These prototypes are designed using rough materials and must show how the end product will function. They are the rough representation of your design.
If required, you can make several changes to these prototypes to create an exact mock-up of your desired design. After designing an accurate functional prototype, you are set up for large-scale production of high-quality products.
Below are the main processes involved in plastic prototypes. These processes include vacuum casting, 3D printing, fused deposition modeling, stereolithography (SLA), selective laser sintering, CNC Machining, and injection molding.
This manufacturing technique is also designated as polyurethane casting or simply urethane casting. The process shows similarity with the injection molding technique.
The one difference is in the type of mold they use to create desired products. Vacuum casting uses silicon mold for the creation of parts.
Initially, the process starts with creating a 3D model of the desired product. The model acts as a mockup of the final product. After creating the 3D model, a master model of the required mold is produced and followed by the creation of the final silicon mold.
After the creation of the final mold, the material is added into the mold cavity, which is then placed into a vacuum machine.
The vacuum machine does the casting and the curing of the material to form the final part. In the end, the part is ejected. This process commonly benefits the low-volume production of highly accurate and precise components.
The process begins with creating a master mold using the CNC machining technique. After its creation, it is directly suspended in a large container.
Its suspension is followed by pouring the liquid silicon into it to form the silicon-based casting mold. After that, it is allowed to cure in a heat chamber.
Once the curing is done, the master mold is removed from the container, and silicon exhibiting an inner cavity is left behind. This technique is helpful in the creation of complex and highly-precise plastic prototypes in less time.
3D printing is among the most innovative techniques for creating plastic prototypes exhibiting exceptional qualities.
This additive manufacturing technique is beneficial for manufacturing 3D plastic prototypes. The whole process aggregates different material layers until the final product is formed.
This technique allows you to use various plastic materials with varying flexibilities and properties. In addition, it proves helpful in creating exact mockups of your desired final components.
This process allows you to design the prototypes with varying complexities, i.e., simple to intricate. It is constructive for creating various plastic prototypes quickly at economical rates and considered superior to the vacuum-casting plastic parts fabrication technique.
You can use various methods to manufacture 3D plastic prototypes through 3D printing.
a) Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM):
This 3D printing method is also referred to as plastic prototype fabrication. It makes use of different FDM printers for the manufacturing of 3D plastic prototypes. The filamentous thermoplastic polymers are melted and aggregated to manufacture desired prototypes.
3D FDM printers read the instructions of the CAD file and deposit the filamentous plastic layer by layer. After deposition, it undergoes a cooling and solidification process. After solidification, the desired surface finishing treatments are done to form high-quality 3-dimensional prototypes.
b) Stereolithography (SLA):
Another name suggested for stereolithography is the resin 3D printing method. The machine used to manufacture 3D plastic prototypes is known as stereolithography apparatus that emits different high-powered lasers.
During the process, liquid resin from a resin tank is exposed to high-powered laser beams emitted by the stereolithography apparatus.
Consequently, the liquid resin solidifies for the formation of plastic prototypes. The resultant product is a highly accurate prototype with good surface finishing.
c) Selective Laser Sintering:
This SLS technique is known for producing high-resolution prototypes exhibiting more functionality. The 3D printing technique is known for reducing the overall manufacturing cost by rapidly producing prototypes. It works perfectly with materials exhibiting varying flexibilities.
It also allows the faster production of plastic prototypes. The prototypes are usually manufactured within hours.
3. CNC Machining:
CNC machining utilizes computer numerical control to manipulate machines and during the creation of prototypes, the material is removed from the solid block of plastic through specialized cutting tools to shape it into the desired prototype.
The process is automated and enables machines to manufacture more precise parts with complex geometries and better surface finishes.
The cutting tools are controlled by the instructions given by computer programs, resulting in a more accurate design. The prototypes also show greater consistency and meet all the required dimensions.
The resulting prototypes look like the mock-up of the end product with similar features. This process is also an inexpensive method for the creation of precise prototypes.
No human participation is required for CNC machining to manufacture parts for various industries, including consumer products, automotive, aerospace, and medical.
4. Injection Molding:
Injection molding is an excellent method for the production of plastic prototypes. It is commonly adopted when small quantities of prototypes are required. Injection molding is a technique widely adopted for creating identical components through the molding process.
Initially, a metallic mold with a specific cavity is created in which a desired melted thermoplastic material is injected. After the injection of melted plastic material into the mold cavity, it undergoes a cooling and solidification process.
As the material solidifies, it is ejected from the mold. The ejected part goes through various surface finishing treatments, producing the desired part. It is beneficial for producing a high volume of the same parts with low waste production.
The process of plastic injection molding has the ability to make outstanding quality prototypes at economical rates for the various industrial sectors. They are precisely the replicas of the final products, exhibiting their main features and performance.
We know that rapid plastic prototyping is bringing major success on the industrial level by forming prototypes that replicate good quality final products. Some of these considerations are given below.
Before manufacturing a plastic prototype, you must know the purpose for which you will create it, and are proving beneficial on different levels.
Because the requirements will differ for functional and non-functional prototypes, creating a prototype for functional testing must show your consumers whether or not it shows the intended performance.
You may require a prototype for non-functional testing in which the prototype will reveal its actual suitable performance.
You must remember the exact design you need for your plastic prototype. A variety of manufacturing processes are used for the creation of plastic prototypes. You must be choosy while selecting a specific technique for your designs.
Most designs demand complex geometries and tolerances that cannot be achieved through various manufacturing processes. Therefore, you must always select manufacturing processes that fulfill your requirements and create plastic prototypes with demanded designs.
The total production volume of the plastic prototypes shows close relation with the overall cost of the manufacturing technique.
Most plastic prototype manufacturing processes have high startup costs and expensive tools but may create the parts at economical rates. You must choose a technique that can create your desired volume of the product at an affordable cost.
Lead time is a critical measure in prototype manufacturing, and it depends on part design, size, the material used, and methods customers select for their prototype manufacturing.
Many automated manufacturing processes can create prototypes in a shorter period. However, some methods may take weeks to manufacture identical prototypes.
Material is the base of any part, so it is the key factor affecting all other matters, such as cost, manufacturing time, the accuracy of parts, and their demand in the market. You must select the material with characteristics that relate to your desired prototype.
The materials’ flexibility, rigidity, stress, strain, and other properties should be according to your desired properties in your final high-performing plastic prototype.
It depends on various considerations, such as if you choose a costly material and highly technical and latest methods for prototype fabrication; your project price will increase.
Some other factors as more precise and complex designing and prototypes, require more time, machines, and cycle time, so cost increases when you need more precise, intricate parts.
A prototype made with high-quality material is found at a high cost and vice versa. Techniques used for manufacturing prototypes also significantly affect their price.
Commonly, 3D printing is the cheapest technique used to make low-price prototypes. The cost of prototypes produced through this technique remains constant. It means that its first and last copy shows the exact cost.
CNC machining prototype cost increases at a slight rate with the increase in its production. But, the price of their prototypes decreases as their production volume increases.
It clarifies that the starting few prototypes produced during this technique have a higher cost, but it starts reducing as the production increases.
The complexity of the design also dramatically affects the price of the prototype. The price enhances as the complexity of the prototype increases. A complex prototype is more costly than one with less complexity.
Kemal is a famous prototype manufacturing company that has manufactured many prototypes for years. We are using a variety of top-quality plastic to manufacture the best, high-quality prototypes for our customers.
Our prototypes exhibit greater accuracy, precision, complexity, and dimensions and meet all the customer’s requirements. We manufacture prototypes under experienced supervision to make an exact mockup of your design, having similar features and performance.
We welcome you to invest in our products and benefit from exceptional customer service for a successful business.
Using the best suitable technique for manufacturing your prototype is a compulsory element. Choosing a suitable prototype manufacturing technique and considering several factors, such as purpose, form, cost, etc., before manufacturing prototypes can help you produce superb-quality.
This selection offers exceptional performance prototypes at an economical cost. Plastic prototype is suitable for various sectors and you can manufacture parts according to your needs.