Services - Rapid Prototyping

Rapid Prototyping

Our rapid prototyping services allow us to produce a fully functional prototype in as little as 1 day. With the exception of having an identical appearance to the finished product, these prototypes have identical fit, form and function of the finished product. As such, they are commonly used to verify and validate the design prior to releasing to manufacturing.
Rapid prototyping or 3D printing is a process of creating a solid three-dimensional object of virtually any shape from a 3D CAD model. 3D printing is achieved using an additive process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes. These systems were introduced in 1987 beginning with stereolithography (commonly known as SLA) technology. This is a process that utilizes laser technology to solidify layers of ultraviolet light-sensitive liquid polymer. See below for more details on this process. 3D printing is different from traditional machining techniques which are subtractive processes, generally relying on removing material by methods such as cutting or drilling.

SLA: Stereolithography

Stereolithography is the most widely used rapid prototyping technology, being able to create a functional part in as little as 1 day. This is an additive process that utilizes a low-power, highly focused UV laser to trace out successive cross-sections of a 3D object in a vat of liquid UV-sensitive polymer. Due to their accuracy and short lead time, SLA models are ideal for use as concept models. Their resolution can be modified by changing the "spot-size": smaller spot size and layer thickness increase resolution, but also increase lead time and cost. SLA models can be post-processed to numerous levels of finishing based on your requirement. We offer basic finishing which simply removes supports and cleans the parts, non-cosmetic and cosmetic paint, textures, as well as plating options to closely simulate your production product. Other options include functional finish, in which the parts are sanded and bead-blasted, making them suitable for engineering review. SLA models may also be finished to provide an accurate visual and mechanical representation of the production part.

Advantages: SLA models have a very aggressive lead time, being able to produce functional parts in as little as a few hours. SLA models are capable of producing complex patterns and parts are strong enough to be used as master patterns for injection molding, thermoforming, blow molding, and various metal casting processes. Parts have excellent surface finish that can very closely simulate a production product, and pricing is very competitive.

Limitations: SLA parts usually cannot be used for functional testing as they tend to be weaker than parts made of engineering resins. In addition, the UV curing portion of the process makes parts susceptible to degradation from sunlight exposure.

SLS: Selective Laser Sintering

In Selective Laser Sintering, models are created by adhering layers of laser-cured resin powder to a moveable platform using a high power laser beam. The SLS process can use a variety of polymer powders that can approximate the performance of thermoplastics after sintering. Following the process, SLS parts can often be machined and models can be finished to simulate an accurate visual and physical representation of the production part.

Advantages: SLS models have very fast build times, very comparable to SLA models. In addition, this process can make complex parts that are generally more durable and accurate than SLA parts.

Limitations: A completed part has a rough texture and usually some post-processing and finishing is required. In addition, SLS parts are not suitable for functional testing due to their poor mechanical properties. Limited number of resins are available in powder form.

CNC: Computer Numerical Control Machining

Computer Numerical Control machining is a subtractive process that produces finished parts from a variety of materials such as plastic, aluminum, magnesium, titanium, and steel by cutting parts from blocks of the requested material. This method is generally the most accurate prototyping process but has greater design constraints, higher cost, and greater lead time than additive processes.

Advantages: Produces strong parts with greater accuracy than SLA and SLS parts, and has a good surface finish. CNC machined parts have properties that are suitable for engineering evaluation and functional testing. Models can be machined out of plastic, aluminum, steel or most other metals.

Limitations: Unlike 3D printing, CNC machining requires CAM programming, which increases the lead time compared to SLS and SLA models. This process is also more expensive than 3D printing due to the CNC machine tooling initial cost.

Why Choose Rapid Prototyping?

Our nylon prototypes offer numerous benefits of an injection molded part, without carrying the expense of initial tooling costs. Our 3D printed models have properties that make them durable as well as flexible.

Testing your design with a prototype not only can save you time, but also an incredible amount of money as it will allow you to analyze the fit, form, and aesthetics of your part prior to production. Most of our customers integrate rapid prototyping into their product development process as the small costs associated with the parts are minimal in comparison to iterative design and tooling costs.

•  Fast and effective communication of design ideas
•  Effective validation of design fit, form, function, and aesthetics
•  Greater design flexibility, with the ability to run quickly through multiple design iterations
•  Fewer production design flaws and better end-products!

Rapid Prototyping Services

As part of our 3D CAD services, we offer the following for our clients:

•  Plastic Injection Molding
•  Selective Laser Sintering (SLS Prototyping)
•  Stereolithography (SLA Prototyping)
•  3D animated prototyping to simulate product functionality
•  Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining
•  3D rapid prototyping for advertising, sales and marketing
•  Detailing product design through rapid prototyping
•  Design review and analyses based on rapid prototyping
•  Reverse engineering for rapid prototyping
•  3D Prototypes from paper-based sketches and drawings

Inquiries and Quotes

To obtain a quotation for rapid prototyping your product, send your 3D CAD files and desired quantity to We will process your quotation in as little as 48 hours! If you have a "back-of-the-envelope" sketch, we will transfer this into a 3D model and prototype it through our rapid prototyping services.