How and When to Manufacture Plastic Prototypes?

Prototyping your product finalizes whether it goes into production or not. It’s been a decades-old practice already known to well-versed manufacturers; that too globally. With its successful impact on the feasibility of the product life cycle, there’s a rapid increase in the use of plastic prototypes.

Plastic prototypes are easy for emulating the realistic figure or product. You can tweak the design, size, color, and features relatively comfortably using plastic prototypes.

With time, there’s been a significant development even in the prototype market. From below, you will understand up-close the steps to initiate for the same. Then, we introduce you to the best time to go for the plastic prototypes for your upcoming products.

When you go through the plastic prototype ways below, it’s going to enhance your knowledge. From there on, you will have better intel on this subject matter, leading you to commit fewer mistakes.

  • Creation of plastic prototypes with 3D printing

There are three popular subcategories under 3D printing, vastly used for manufacturing plastic prototypes.

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM):

It deposits plastic layer-by-layer until the process of creating the desired plastic prototype completes. It’s the most common 3D printing technique for plastic prototypes requiring higher resolution.

Stereolithography (SLA):

Under SLA, manufacturers use resin materials. This is high-powered laser technology, creating plastic prototypes by solidifying the desired model from the chosen vat of resin.

This technology is best for medical, consumer, and dental goods.

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS): 

Nylon (PA 11 and PA 12) is the standard material used in SLS 3D printing. The laser technology sinters the powder into the desired 3D model for the plastic prototype. Both material and the quality of the prototype are better than the FDM model using SLS. Plus, they are more durable, higher in resolution, more flexible than those prototypes from the FDM technique.

  • When to use 3D printing for plastic prototypes?

The best possible time to use 3D printing is when your need is small; to be met in a tight schedule.

  • Creation of plastic prototypes with CNC machines 

CNC milling is another rapid-paced printing technique for carving out 3D models from solid material blocks. It’s most definitely used for manufacturing plastic prototypes of different tools having various sizes and shapes.

CNC machining puts you at leverage over 3D printing by being better for threads and cuts. This machining allows you to test the models for their form, fitness, and perfect size without producing any inject mold tools.

You can use a wide range of plastics under CNC machining: PP, PC, ABS, Teflon, HDPE, PEEK, etc. Know which plastic is suitable for your desired plastic prototype when you consult an expert for the same.

  • When to use the CNC Machining technique?

When you want to create functional prototypes with mechanical quality and structural integrity, this is the technique you go for.

  • Creation of plastic prototypes with vacuum casting

This is another powerful manufacturing method to produce and bring the desired plastic prototype to life. It consists of 3 broad steps, equally significant. First, you have to select the CAD design cast later on into the model. This is where you use 3D printing or CNC machining.

Once the master mold is ready, there begins the process of production of silicone-based casting. After that, the mold cavity is full of casting resins in the process.

Each mold would have the capacity to produce up to 25 prototypes. The TAT would be around two weeks, generally. This is the best way to put the development process nearer to mass production.

You can use a lot of materials in the master molds of the vacuum casting process. The materials can range from opaque to transparent, dipped in multiple or singular colors.

  • When to use vacuum casting for plastic prototypes?

This method is suitable for smaller production runs. Objects like castings or housings are effectively and effortlessly cast out from the vacuum casting process.

Another best use of this manufacturing method is when you want to create visually appealing prototypes. They won’t have any mechanical or structural importance, per se. Additionally, you must have the two weeks TAT capacity or patience. That is when you can make the most use of the vacuum casting process.

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