Rapid Prototyping is a group of advanced technologies for converting designs from computer representations directly into solid objects without human intervention. These technologies are generally referred to as computer automated fabrication. The first rapid prototyping process was developed in the late 1980’s and since that time several other competing processes have been developed. Each process is unique and has benefits above other processes. As a potential user of these technologies, it is important to understand each process and realize the advantages and limitations that each may provide.
This technical paper will present each of these technologies and discuss how they operate and their appropriate applications. The reader will gain exposure to the rapid prototyping technologies currently on the market as well as an understanding of the fundamental principles involved in rapid prototyping.
A practical example of rapid prototyping is presented through the development of an offset lower anvil that would be used on a typical automated drill and rivet machine.