Before manufacturing begins, a comparison is made between prototyping processes to come up with one that suits your project the best. The choice of the prototype influences the market other than competition. The process evolves with time, pushing a manufacturer to find the perfect custom manufacturing process for a unique application. Discussed below are the prototyping processes, their advantages, and disadvantages.
Advantages and disadvantages of various prototyping processes
a.Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
SLS involves the fusion of materials such as tiny particles of plastic, glass, or ceramic to form a solid. The objects printed with SLS start as a computer-aided design file that is converted to STL to be understood by the 3D apparatus.
SLS requires less additional tooling compared to other methods. It can also print a variety of materials that are of high quality. Despite consideration of the process, it has a main setback: the grainy texture that limits resin selection.
The design and creation of plastic and metallic objects can be problematic. Polyjet makes it easier for you. The process involves spraying the layers of cured photopolymer resin with the help of UV light. The layers allow for quality resolution since they are thin.
The material works perfectly with a gel matrix removed when the part gets completed. This process is relatively cheap and offers multiple color options. Lastly note, the color of the material turns yellow with time, and it is not as strong compared to SLS.
c.Multi Jet Fusion
Multi-jet fusion is a prominent prototyping process that involves the fusion of nylon powder to form a solid layer. A continuous distribution of the nylon layers is made repeatedly until the process is complete. After everything, the excess loose powder is removed using an integrated vacuum.
The final product is then applied black dye to boost its appearance. This process is faster, and the final output is presentable. The only disadvantage it carries is that it is limited to PA12 nylon material compared to SLS, which is better.
Thermoplastic resins are injected into a mold in the injection molding machine. The process is made rapid by the technology applied to mold production, and the molded parts tend to be healthier and have excellent finishes. The choice of the material in this process is not a constrain since there is a variety, but the output of this process is perfect. But remember, the process is costly due to the initial tooling; therefore, only one or two rounds of prototypes should be done.
e. Fused Deposition Modelling.
FDM is an extrusion method that involves the melting and solidification of thermoplastic resin to form a finished prototype. The final product is more potent.
All too often, the parts are cost-friendly and are the best for functional testing. It is also the best for making parts with complex geometries. On the other hand, the final details have rippled surfaces and have a slower additive process.
f. Direct Metal Laser Sintering.
The process involves the production of metal prototypes. In this process, the laser system is used to weld powder into a solid. Most alloys can be used hence contributing to the strength of the prototype.
This process stands out from the others since it produces dense prototypes from a variety of metals. The process turns out to be costly compared to other techniques and is relatively slow. The surfaces are also rough due to direct metal materials.
Considering every prototyping process, each of them has pros and cons, which contributes to the choice of which to use. It is advisable to go for an economical, cost-effective process with a presentable output.