CNC machining is an ideal prototyping method for their projects.

Ever since people started making things—and then trying to make new and improved things—there has been a need for prototypes. They are used for design evaluation, testing, certification, proof-of-concept, crowdfunding campaigns, and as a bridge to full production.

If you need high-quality rapid prototyping, we recommend you consider these 5 proven and proven processes that cost-effectively deliver outstanding results. They are 5 axis CNC machining, polyurethane vacuum casting and three plastic 3D printing methods: SLA, FDM and powder bed fusion.

CNC machining

Many people don’t realize that CNC machining is an ideal prototyping method for their projects. It’s fast, accurate and versatile as it works on almost any solid material. There’s also no minimum quantity, so one part can be made just as easily as a thousand.

If you need solid machine parts that are fully functional and have precise tolerances, you’ll want to consider CNC machining – basically full production quality, but in limited quantities.

However, CNC machining is not ideal for thin-walled boxes or deep cavities. For these shapes, you may want to consider vacuum casting.

Polyurethane Vacuum Casting or VC

Vacuum casting, also known as “cast urethane,” uses a master mold as a pattern for the desired finished part. The pattern can be made from any solid material, but is usually a plastic 3D printed part.

The master model is then hung in an empty casting box. The box is filled with liquid silicone, and after the silicone solidifies, it is cut open and the pattern removed, leaving a cavity that can now be refilled with casting resin to replicate the original.

Polyurethane vacuum casting is the best way to create near-production-quality plastic parts that look and perform like PIM, but without investing in expensive metal tooling. Parts can also be over-molded, and the resin comes in a variety of shore hardnesses, so you can make soft rubber shapes that you can’t do with CNC machining.

VC molds can be used in batches of up to 20 or so, making them a great way to make shells and other semi-hollow forms in small batches. Surface textures stay true to the original textures, and you can paint, sand and machine them for more finishing options.

Stereolithography or SLA

This was the first additive manufacturing process and is being improved all the time. SLA uses a vat of photoresin inside a chamber with a movable build platform. As the platform slowly rises, hundreds or thousands of individual 2D slices of the 3D CAD drawing are projected via UV light into the vat, where they are selectively cured layer by layer to form the finished part.

SLA is fast and versatile, and there are many resins available that offer different appearances and mechanical properties. These are usually divided into different grades such as Standard, Engineering or Medical/Dental. You can even add fiberglass or aluminum powder for extra strength.

The surface finish is very good, but keep in mind that after printing, the parts still need to be cleaned and then cured a second time for maximum strength and stability.

Fused Deposition Modeling or FDM

This is the 3D printing system that most people are familiar with. It uses common plastic filaments like PLA or ABS and engineering resins like PEEK and Ultem.

The filament is extruded through a heated nozzle, where it is melted, and this melt is then deposited layer by layer to form the part.

FDM is one of the cheapest additive manufacturing methods and is most popular among DIY and small shops. For prototyping developers, it’s usually easy to find a local makerspace or digital printing bureau that can help you print out your design quickly and cheaply, but be aware that the resolution isn’t very good, so your parts may need More trim work.

powder bed fusion

There are two main types of powder bed fusion: selective laser sintering (SLS) and multi-jet fusion (MJF 3d printing).

They all use a sealed chamber filled with a powder base material, where rollers are used to smooth and compress the top surface. In SLS, 2D layers are fused with a laser, while MJF uses tiny droplets of binding resin to hold the powder in place. In the second option, the print is completely sintered in an infrared oven.

Powder bed fusion has several advantages. First, the parts are self-supporting, so no additional structure is required. Second, the entire build volume of the chamber is available for maximum efficiency. With SLS, up to 75% of previously constructed powder can be blended with virgin powder to save on raw material costs.

Be-Cu.com offers the best CNC machining and vacuum casting services for your rapid prototyping needs. Upload your CAD files now to get a free quote and you’ll get the best service in the industry.Be-Cu provides the highest standard of rapid prototyping service and laser cutting service for all your needs. Contact us today to know more about what we offer!

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