A range if industries require prototyping for Plastic/Rubber and Metal components. The related industries range from Automotive, Home Appliances, Kitchen Appliances, Electronic Products and Medical Devices. Prototype development is a very important tool in the product development cycle. It helps to reduce the development time significantly and at the same time allow multiple iterations at low costs to enable much higher quality of products and thus helping the end consumer.

Additive Manufacturing Techniques (3D PRINTING)

With the advent of Additive Manufacturing, prototyping received a major boost as it became possible to develop samples without the need for expensive tooling. The first generation machines can be trace back to the early 1990’s and now a host of technologies and materials are available that are pushing the envelope and increasing the scope of use of Additive manufactured parts.

One of the most widely used technologies that are in use for prototyping of engineering components are Stereo Lithography Analysis (SLA) and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS). Both these methods are Layered Manufacturing techniques using a Laser Beam.

Stereo Lithography (SLA) uses an Epoxy based material that is a Photopolymer and can be cured using a Laser Beam. This technique is extremely precise and gives a very good surface finish to the components. It is primarily used for building parts for checking critical fitment areas and for building parts to be used as masters for the Vacuum Casting process. (photographs/video)

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) uses a Polyamide based material that can be sintered using a laser beam. This technique is also very precise and has a standard surface finish. It is primarily used for doing fitment and functional analysis on components.  For getting higher level of finish, post operations need to be done to obtain a high level of surface smoothness. (photographs/video)

Subtractive Manufacturing

CNC Milling/Turning – These are conventional machines using PLC enabled Motion Control to ensure that the cutting tools move as per the NC Program. Blocks of Plastic/Metal/Wood can be used as raw material and required components can be easily obtained by material removal. It is a much slower process than additive manufacturing but gives much higher precision and also the flexibility of using wide variety of materials. (photographs/video)

Vacuum Casting

This is a very ocular process for manufacturing complex injection moulded parts in a very short period of time. The process involves making a master pattern using any additive/subtractive method of prototyping. Liquid Silicone Rubber is poured all around the master pattern which then cures with time and application heat. The mould is now ready and is split along the parting line to separate the Core and the Cavity. The master pattern is destroyed in this process. This creates a wall thickness which can then be filled with a liquid plastic resin to manufacture the required prototypes. The life of these tools are typically 10-20 pieces depending on the complexity of the design. The liquid plastic that is used is a thermoset material, but with the use of additives it can be made equivalent to a variety of thermoplastics and filled materials. This process is widely used for functional prototyping and is extremely useful for a range of automotive and appliance applications. (photographs/video).