Cloud Based CAD

Cloud Based CAD

What is Cloud Based CAD? In a simplistic sense, it means that instead of having CAD software resident locally on CAD workstations or on local network servers, cloud-based solutions enable CAD software to be loaded and run remotely, and to be accessible on the internet to an approved CAD professional.

Before answering the question ”How Quickly is Cloud Based CAD being adopted?”, it is useful to know whether there are incentives for CAD organizations to be interested in cloud-based CAD.

  • Is cloud-based computing a novelty, or does it provide benefits such as cost savings, improved productivity, and protection of intellectual property?
  • Are there disadvantages or drawbacks which should be considered before using cloud-based CAD, instead of locally based CAD?

Answers to these two questions will make it easier to interpret and understand existing data regarding adoption rates for cloud-based CAD. Specifically:

  • Is cloud-based CAD growing, shrinking, or at a standstill?
  • If cloud-based CAD is growing, will it continue to grow? If it is not growing, why is that the case?
  • If cloud-based CAD will grow, at what projected rate?

What Benefits and Drawbacks Does Cloud-based CAD Provide?

Some of the benefits of using cloud-based CAD are:

  • Reduced capital expenditure, because it reduces the need to purchase and maintain workstations
  • Reduced cost of licensing CAD software on individual workstations
  • Global access to CAD software, and elimination of the need to co-locate CAD personnel
  • Increased productivity and collaboration
  • Provision for data backup and recovery, and certain levels of security
  • Reduced energy usage and reduced carbon emissions

Some of the drawbacks are:

  • The risk of security breaches and the danger of losing sensitive business data to hackers
  • Availability issues due to downtime or system outages
  • Inadequate internet bandwidth for certain mission-critical projects
  • Loss of control over company data, and the risk of entrusting protection of company data to an external organization
  • The potential for hacker intrusion and theft of sensitive, classified data

Is There Resistance To Adopting Cloud-based CAD?

The benefits of cloud based CAD seem compelling from a business viewpoint, even if there are some drawbacks. However, it appears from published reports that the current adoption rate of cloud-based CAD is probably between 20% and 30%. Although many businesses are seriously considering the adoption of cloud-based computing, either they have done so in a limited way, or they have not taken the plunge.

Since cloud-based computing provides many benefits, what reasons or concerns are delaying or resisting adoption of the service?

The three top concerns are:

  • Security (61%)
  • System Integration challenges (46%),
  • Information governance (35%).

This probably means that although many CAD organizations are carefully evaluating cloud-based offerings from many vendors, the organizations are in no hurry to adopt cloud-based CAD. This makes sense, because the potential for security breaches, the potential for hackers to steal sensitive company design data, and system performance issues are too risky to be taken lightly.

Until the drawbacks of cloud-based computing are resolved or eliminated, it makes sense for CAD organizations to:

  • Maintain software applications which handle sensitive company data on their own firewalled local servers,
  • Use cloud-based computing for handling data which does not require security clearance,
  • Use a combination of privately-maintained cloud computing together with locally-based computing (hybrid cloud computing).

It is necessary to define three main categories of cloud computing:

  1. Public cloud computing provides both computing resources and data management to the general public. The service is provided either freely or on a pay-per-usage model. This type of service is useful when security is not a major issue.
  2. Private cloud computing appeals to large enterprise organizations which have sensitive data, and require high levels of data protection and security clearance.
  3. Hybrid cloud computing uses the best of both public and private cloud computing. This is a good choice for CAD organizations which want to “test the water” before diving into fully-fledged cloud computing.

What Does Existing Data Say About Adoption Rates Of Cloud-based CAD?

The adoption rate for cloud-based computing depends on the type of software application. Although many types of cloud-based services are available, there are three main types:

  • SaaS (Software as a Service) or “on-demand” software migrates easily to the cloud, because security issues are minimal. Clients usually access SaaS with web browsers. The adoption rate is about 49%.
    Examples of SaaS are Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365, Twitter, Flickr, Dropbox, and Facebook.
  • PaaS (Platform as a Service) provides a computing platform on which software applications can be developed and deployed. Because PaaS provides a virtualized computing environment, software developers can focus on writing software without being concerned with attendant OS-driven tasks. The adoption rate is about 18%.
    Examples of PaaS are AWS (Amazon Web Services) Beanstalk, Google App Engine, Heroku, and Red Hat’s OpenShift.
  • IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) provides scalable computing resources in a virtualized environment, and it manages cloud-enabled data.  Because IaaS clients have control over SaaS and PaaS clients, IaaS is the most likely candidate to be adopted by CAD organizations.
    IaaS could be used to develop applications for SaaS and PaaS environments. The adoption rate is about 28%.
    Examples of IaaS are Windows Azure, Rackspace, CloudSigma, HPCloud and Softlayer.

Is It Likely That The Adoption Rate Of Cloud-based CAD Will Grow?

A report by Cisco reveals that by 2018,

  • 31% of cloud workloads will use public cloud service,
  • 69% of cloud workloads will use private cloud service.

Furthermore,

  • 59% of cloud workloads will use SaaS, an increase of 41% from 2013,
  • 28% of cloud workloads will use IaaS, a decrease of 44% from 2013,
  • 13% of cloud workloads will use PaaS, a decrease of 15% from 2013.

If these projections hold true, the adoption rate of cloud-based CAD should either remain the same or decrease. Any more growth in the adoption of cloud-based CAD will probably occur as IaaS, within the realm of either private or hybrid cloud computing.

Australian Design and drafting Services Importance of CAD Platforms in Designing Products 4

Importance of CAD Platforms in product designs

In the present age of rapidly computerized applications and CAD product designs, it is very likely that many future electromechanical products will have an embedded processor within them. Consider these two examples:

  • Several decades ago, the automobile industry designed automobiles with carburetion technology. This was been replaced by computer-driven electronic ignition systems. Likewise, manual braking was replaced by computer-assisted “antilock braking.” Recently, the concept of a computer-operated driverless car was mentioned as becoming a real possibility. The idea is not too far-fetched when you consider that computer-managed aeroplane navigation is a mature technology.
  • Many products such as copying machines, refrigerators, HVAC systems, and robotic systems provide real-time electronic communication between the customer and the manufacturer. For example, downtime for copying machines is significantly reduced because the product is proactive in sensing impending failures and calling for service. This makes the customer believe that the product is very reliable and virtually failure-free.

These two examples illustrate the trend in product development which combines CAD hardware design, embedded computer technology, and IT (Information Technology) into a package which changes a “dumb product” into a “smart product”. A smart product, therefore, communicates with both its manufacturer and with its customer in a manner which improves the functionality of the product and provides optimum performance of the product.

 

Australian Design and drafting Services How to reduce design and drafting cost?

How to reduce design and drafting cost?

The answer to this question is simple. All you have to do is outsource to ASTCAD Design & Drafting and you can avail a cutting edge 2D design drafting solution across Australia, without having to invest in expensive technology or going through tedious recruitment headaches. Read on to find out more about the importance of effective 2D drafting, the varied types of 2D drafting services offered and the numerous benefits that come with outsourcing to ASTCAD Design & Drafting.[/fusion_text][fusion_text]If your firm is drawing out a design for an office, home, restaurant or any other type of building, then you would definitely be aware of the critical role that 2D drafting plays in the successful outcome of a building.2D drafting is one step that you cannot afford to skip, even though you may encounter other problems when designing your building. Moreover, 2D drafting also requires time, skill and expertise. With outsourcing, you need not worry about doing 2D drafting anymore. You can simply outsource 2D drafting to Australian Design & Drafting and enjoy big savings on cost, time and effort.

No matter what type of design plan you want, you can avail an effective 2D drafting plan by outsourcing to ASTCAD Design & Drafting. ASTCAD Design & Drafting has the best mechanical engineers and 2D drafters who can put their skills and knowledge to deliver a cutting-edge 2D draft for your building. You can avail 2D drafting services for any one of the following:

  • Architectural drawings
  • Preliminary drawings
  • Millwork drawings
  • Assembly drawings
  • Shop drawings
  • Structural design drawings
  • Engineering (MEP) drawings
  • Presentation drawings
  • Machine drawings
  • Manufacturing drawings
  • Fabrication drawings
  • Structural steel detailing
  • Construction or working drawings

Here’s why ASTCAD Design & Drafting is the  preferred outsourcing for 2D design drafting:

1. Latest 2D drafting software and tools: ASTCAD Design & Drafting employ the very latest in 2D drafting tools and software, such as, AutoCAD®, MicroStation®, SolidWorks®, Staad Pro®, Ansys®, 3DS Max®, VRay, X-Steel, Revit®, ProE®, CATIA®, Autodesk® Inventor® and Unigraphics/NX to create world-class 2D drafts.

2. Skilled 2D drafters: Outsourcing 2D drafting to ASTCAD Design & Drafting can give you access to a dedicated team of drafters and engineers who will collaborate with your company, understand your needs and provide you with a satisfactory 2D drafting solution. With a 2D drafting solution for your preliminary drawing, architectural drawing or structural drawing, you can develop a firm base for your design plans.

3. 2D drafting in CAD: ASTCAD Design & Drafting have extensive knowledge of conducting 2D drafting in CAD, as per the exact scaling and specifications are given by you.

4. Huge cost savings: you can cut down on your current cost by a whopping 50% while getting access to professionally drawn 2D drafts that meet your expectations.

When you outsource to ASTCAD Design & Drafting, you know you are working with the best people in the industry, With 2D drafting out of your hands, you can focus on your design plans, while a dedicated team of skilled mechanical engineers at ASTCAD Design & Drafting work out a 2D draft for your building ahead of your deadline.

Outsource 2D drafting to ASTCAD Design & Drafting today and experience freedom from mundane recruitment, payroll or infrastructure-related hassles.

If you were to outsource today, which 2D drafting service would you prefer to start with? Have you outsourced 2D drafting before? If yes, how did it go? If you have a question on outsourcing or want to express your views, just leave a comment in the box below. We, at ASTCAD Design & Drafting, love to hear from you!

How CAD Modeling helping Water Distribution Systems

The use of 3D modelling over the past 20 years has greatly improved the ability of engineers to design, model, and fabricate complex parts for a variety of industries, including automotive, aerospace, and biomedical, just to name a few. Imagine a tool that would help civil engineers, city planners, and construction crews plan out networks for their water distribution and wastewater management operations with the click of a mouse. Such tools do exist and are readily available today to assist difficult optimizations. The network engineering design of pressurized pipelines is a highly complex one, requiring significant planning and understanding of regulations and the design criteria. As a result, it is a highly time-consuming task, requiring significant effort and prior knowledge. Even with prior understanding, it is cumbersome to meet all of the necessary design criteria (such as pipeline minimum slope, the spacing between valves, intersection with existing utilities, and pipe cover) and other applicable quality standards.[/fusion_text][fusion_text]

Design and Optimization Tools for Better Water Infrastructure

Let us consider that you need to design your own water network with a bottom-up approach using the available water source, information on the constituent, age, and tank-mixing in your design. In such a scenario, the common questions could be:

  • How would your water system handle a fire?
  • Would there be enough water at each fire hydrant?
  • What are the design limitations in your water network?
  • What happens if there is an excess flow from a particular location?
  • Is there a sufficient flow of water to handle your system needs?

CAD programs, with the use of 3D modelling to design complex water distribution systems, can provide the answer to the above questions. For example, Bentley System’s WaterGEMS, which runs as a stand-alone tool or in conjunction with MicroStation, AutoCAD, or ArcGIS, is one of these tools. Innovyze’s InfoWater and PipePlan tools provide a similar solution. These tools are being readily adopted by utility companies, townships, municipalities, and design engineers to provide efficient design and optimization tools for water infrastructure and networks.

A few of the benefits of using CAD for developing water distribution networks are:

  • The ability to visualize the network in a 3D environment
  • The ability to model pipe pressures
  • GPS tagging of the pipe network and existing pipes/utilities that allows designers to determine points of interference and avoid critical problem areas
  • Ability to model-flow rate, pressures, and loss through nodes
  • Design for high-flow conditions such as first responders at a fire requiring the use of fire hydrants

Real-Time Examples of CAD Use in Water Distribution Networks

Such CAD tools are already widely used and are most likely to be the future of civil engineering planning and design. Salt Lake City in Utah and Huntington Beach in California are some of the two cities that have already adopted WaterGEMS software for designing, optimizing, and maintaining their water distribution networks. Salt Lake City’s water distribution network serves almost half a million residents and includes over 1,000 miles of pipes. It has a complete geographical information system (GIS) for its water, sewer, and stormwater infrastructure, which has been built into its model. Using WaterGEMS, the city is currently building a hydraulic model for its water distribution system using existing data that can be updated and maintained as the city expands.

The tool has been used to determine the optimal pipes for replacing pipes where customers have complained that the flow was insufficient during peak periods. Using this guidance, the city was able to remediate the complaints. Further, the city was able to meet the fire department’s flow requirement of 1500 gallons per minute for all fire hydrants with high pressure.

Best Known CAD Tools for Optimization and Piping Plans

  1. WaterGEMS: WaterGEMS is a tool for engineering design, analysis, and optimization of water distribution systems. Features of WaterGEMS include steady-state and extended-period simulations, constituent-concentration analysis, source tracing, as well as tank-mixing, water-age, and fire-flow analyses. Controls can be rule-based or logical, and pumps can be single or variable speed. These tools help users find operational bottlenecks, minimize energy consumption, and model real-time operations. Criticality Analysis is another important feature that allows users to find the weak links and valves in the water distribution system. The tool offers the ability to import CAD, GIS, and database data or perform the polyline-to-pipe conversion from DXF files. The program also provides optimization tools to facilitate and enhance design iterations. What is perhaps more impressive is that the program can link directly to Supervisory, Control, and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, namely SCADAConnect, a software tool that provides an environment for monitoring and controlling the network in real-time. Using this tool, the pipe network model can be monitored in real-time, allowing a comparison of the model with the operation. Problems and deficiencies can be investigated and evaluated using forensic performance analysis.
  2. PipePlan: A second tool that offers similar utility is Innovyze’s PipePlan software, which provides a geospatial environment for water network analysis and design for detailed hydraulic network models. Design engineers can produce and validate distribution and transmission line designs iteratively with very little effort. PipePlan allows for both horizontal and vertical alignments and helps define the location of pipe fittings such as bends, air valves, washouts, end caps and tees. An important feature of the tool is its interference checking, i.e. the ability to automatically report intersection with existing/proposed utility networks.

Conclusions

Maintaining water distribution networks is going to be a challenging task for governments across the globe. In this context, CAD will play a significant role in enabling the proper regulation of water flow as cities and urban areas continue to expand. Therefore, tools such as WaterGems and PipePlan will have an even more critical role to play in providing efficient design and optimization of water networks in the future.

Australian Design and drafting Services CAD importance in Product Development

CAD importance in Product Development

CAD and CAM are industrial computer applications, which have greatly reduced the time and cost cycles between initial concepts and product development. They have enabled designers and manufacturers to make significant cost savings. These tools also reduce the time to market for new products, and reduce the number of design flaws, which tend to hamper productivity, and in some cases ground an entire production cycle. Since the 1980s, CAD and CAM have provided exponential gains to both the quantity and quality of products.[/fusion_text][fusion_text]The primary advantages of CAD include the ability to:

  • reduce design cycle times
  • design a complex machine without the need to prototype
  • prototype parts directly from a CAD model
  • reduce low-cost design iterations rapidly
  • alter the designs quickly by changing geometrical parameters
  • view designs or parts under a variety of representations
  • virtually simulate real-world applications

CAM is the use of CAD data to control automated machinery for producing parts designed using CAD. The benefits of linking part fabrication directly to the CAD model include:

  • Direct control of computer numerical control (CNC) or direct numerical control (DNC) systems to produce exact replicas of the designs
  • Ability to skip the engineering drawing phase
  • Reduced part variability

How Boeing Set the Standard for Design Automation?

Boeing is the world’s second-largest defence contractor and a leading manufacturer of aircraft, rockets, and satellites. CAD has played a major role in their product development planning and operations over the past three decades. Boeing announced the development of the 777 in the late 1980s, leading many aviation experts to question their decision. The design of an entirely new aircraft is a highly expensive task, whereas the success of the 747 models had been serving customers for over 30 years led experts to believe that the proper solution was to modify the 747 to suit passenger needs. Boeing applied a new approach that included customer inputs in the design phase from several major airlines, including United Airlines, Nippon Airways, British Airways, Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific.

More importantly, Boeing invested over $1 billion in design automation using CAD based on CATIA (Computer Aided Three-dimensional Interactive Application) and ELFINI (Finite Element Analysis System) to design the new airliner that would turn out to become an industry standard. Both of these software packages were developed by Dassault Systemes of France. Boeing applied the following objectives to guide their break-through process:

  • Reduce aircraft development time significantly
  • Meet customer requirements better by involving them in the development process
  • Eliminate costly modification procedures

As a result, the 777 was the first aircraft in the world to be designed entirely using CAD technology. It was designed to maximize efficiency and quality. The completed design included over 3 million parts! The design process, its innovative features, and Boeing’s approach to manufacturing became the “Gold Standard” for development of future aircraft and were applied to a number of other projects, such as the International Space Station. The design was executed so successfully that a full-scale mock-up of the 777 was never built and was not necessary, reducing the design and production time. In fact, its first flight was so successful that the design was considered one of the most seamless and smoothest to date.

By using CAD models, design engineers were able to provide “built-in” options, which did not need to go to production, such as folding wing-tips. By developing options in CAD, the cost associated with such a trade study and its design is minimized.

What Benefits did Boeing Realize by Automating its Design Process?

To assess the value of the design automation that Boeing implemented in their process by using 3D CAD modelling to design the 777, Boeing compared the effort with their previous design efforts (757 and 767). Overall, they realized:

  • 91% reduction in development time
  • 71% reduction in labour costs
  • Over 3000 assembly interfaces were developed virtually without the need for prototypes
  • Reduction in design and production flaws, mismatches, and associated errors
  • 90% reduction in engineering change requests from approximately 6000 to 600
  • 50% reduction in cycle time for engineering change request
  • 90% reduction in material rework
  • 50 times improvement in assembly tolerances for the fuselage.

It is notable that the design was completed at a time when CAD was not linked directly with FEA and CFD modelling software, but the effort has still been widely accepted as one of the greatest uses of CAD of its time.

The value of CAD modelling is just as valuable on a smaller scale, such as in the bicycle industry. For example, Cannondale is another pioneer that has utilized CAD and CAM technology since the 1990s to reduce its production cycle and reduce manufacturing costs, resulting in significantly higher production rates. As part of their integrated system design approach, Cannondale extended its production capability to produce custom designs for customers that are fit to their individual needs, resulting in over 7000 custom-fit designs that can be produced using their vertical integration production strategy. Their highly advanced model allows the company to maintain a competitive advantage in all aspects of design, performance, and production.

What Lessons can be Learnt from these Pioneers?

  • Leverage customer input early in the design process
  • Use CAD, CAM, and rapid prototyping of models to obtain valuable feedback from all stakeholders, including end customers, manufacturers, and suppliers
  • Reduce design times by applying CAD early in the design process no matter how small, simple, or complex your design.

 

Australian Design and drafting Services Raster to Vector Conversion

Raster to Vector Conversion

Wondering why you need to do away with your raster images and move towards vector images? Read on to find out more about raster to vector conversion.

If you are from the manufacturing or mechanical engineering industry, you will be in constant need of complex, yet accurate drawings. Though raster images were popular in the past, they are resolution-dependent and do not yield very accurate results. If you have been still using raster images, it is time to move towards vector images, as a vector image can yield more accurate drawings and images.

With raster to vector conversion, you can quickly and effortlessly convert uneditable paper drawings into accurate vector files that can be edited in the CAD software of your choice. The converted files can be saved in any vector format (WMF, EMF, EPS DXF, or AI). Once your file is converted into a vector, it can be effortlessly read by any CAD program like AutoCAD, Corel Draw, Adobe Illustrator, Microstation, VectorWorks, TrueCAD or FastCAD. In fact, raster to vector conversion is a direct replacement for traditional tracing and digitizing which could be less accurate and more time-consuming.

Why use vector images in CAD programs?

CAD programs can import and display raster files, but you will only be able to look at the file or trace it. You will be unable to change or edit it. This happens because CAD programs can only work with vector files. If you wish to edit a raster file in your CAD program, you will first need to convert it into a vector file through raster to vector conversion. Once the file is converted into a vector file, you will be able to import it into a CAD program and edit it easily like any other drawing you have created in your CAD program.

How is a file converted from raster to vector?

  • A paper drawing is scanned by using a scanner and a raster file is created
  • The file is converted from raster to vector through raster to vector conversion
  • The vector file is imported into the CAD program
  • You can easily edit your vector drawing in your CAD program

Who requires raster to vector conversion?

  • CAD professionals who need to need to quickly scan, convert and edit drawings in popular CAD programs
  • Mechanical, electrical and architectural engineers who require their drawings done by hand to be edited in CAD software
  • Professionals who need to convert small faxed drawings into vector drawings
  • Technical professional who have several drawings in the bitmap format and need to convert this data into an editable vector format
  • Photo editing professionals who need to convert photos/artwork into vector files for easy engraving or cutting

Have you tried raster to vector conversion?

Using raster to vector conversion services is a quick and easy way to edit a drawing, rather than redrawing the entire concept from scratch. You will be able to save the countless hours spent on tracing, redrawing and digitizing. Why not try raster to vector conversion for your paper drawings right away? Find out more about our low-cost, precise and super-fast raster to vector conversion services.

Australian Design and drafting Services Proof-of-Principle Prototypes

Proof-of-Principle Prototypes

Proof-of-Principle (PoP) Prototypes are a cornerstone of engineering design. PoP, also referred to as Proof-of-Concept, prototyping is an effective way to rapidly take ideas from intangible designs to tangible, working models. Developing these prototypes enables you as an inventor or designer to demonstrate the fundamental technology used in your product to be fabricated. They also allow you to test your solution to ensure that it functions as you intended or envisioned. Being able to create fabricate prototypes from a CAD model gives product developers a competitive edge by reducing design iteration times and associated costs. This article from ASTCAD describes methods, advantages, and disadvantages of the most essential rapid prototyping processes that are used in the industry by product design engineers to meet development milestones. Taking your design from a CAD model to a proof-of-principle prototype will accelerate your design and allow you to bring new products to market more efficiently. Using the right process, your CAD model can quickly be transformed into a working prototype.

PoP Prototype Advantages

Advantages of PoP Prototyping include:

  • Reduces product development time.
  • Reduces product development costs.
  • Makes design flaws apparent.
  • Provides a demonstration tool for obtaining user feedback.
  • Results in higher quality end products.
  • Makes potential future system enhancements apparent to engineers and inventors.

PoP Prototype Disadvantages

Disadvantages of PoP Prototyping include:

  • May not include all of the features of a more complex complete system.
  • Cannot be used in place of rigorous system analysis.
  • May not be representative of the full functionality of the end product.
  • Can lead to over-confidence in solution.

Proof-of-Principle Prototyping Methods and Processes

There are several ways to prototype your design. Typically referred to as Rapid Prototyping, these methods provide an initial fabrication of your design. The processes used to create these prototypes include Additive Processes, where the part is built in subsequent layers, Subtractive, where the material is removed to create the final product, Injection Molding, where thermoplastics are injected into negative moulds, and Casting, which uses urethanes thermoset resins.

  • Additive Processes build plastic parts layer by layer directly from a 3D CAD model. Recently, 3D printers have been developed for most additive processes and have gained tremendous acclaim.
  • Stereolithography (SLA) uses lasers to cure thin layers of liquid UV-sensitive photopolymer. SLA is cost-effective, can be used to produce intricate parts, and has the look and feel of a finished product after sanding. However, it tends to produce parts that are relatively weak and have little UV stability as a result of the UV curing process.
  • Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is similar to SLA but uses the addition of layers of extruded thermoplastic to create the part. This method provides complex parts that are structurally sound and can be used for limited mechanical and functional testing. However, the surface finish is typically poor compared to other methods.
  • Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) creates parts by adhering layers of polymer powder that is cured using a laser. SLS prototypes can be made with more complexity than parts made with SLA. However, the parts tend to have a rough texture and have poor mechanical properties.
  • Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) uses laser-generated heat to sinter thin layers of metal powders, including steel, stainless steel, cobalt-chromium, and titanium, to generate prototypes. DMLS parts provide highly realistic parts but are less cost-effective than their plastic counterparts, which often leads designers to either produce cheaper plastic prototypes or have the product fully machined.
  • The Polyjet process utilizes jetting heads and UV curing bulbs to apply consecutive layers of material in multiple colours and durometer in a single build. This method provides a representation of multi-material parts with excellent surface finish quality. However, mechanical properties are lacking using the Polyjet process.
  • Subtractive Processes begin with raw material and machine away excess volume to produce a final part.
  • CNC Machining (CNC) is the most common example. Using CNC machining, a part can be produced from almost any variety of material, including both plastics and metal. The advantages of CNC machined parts are that they are highly accurate, can be made with the mechanical properties of the final product, and can have a highly polished and professional finish. Limitations include less complex geometries due to the nature of the tooling and significantly higher costs.
  • Injection Molding is a very popular prototyping process that cures thermoplastics into a mould that is machined from soft metal. The process is highly cost and time effective and is one of the only methods that are representative of volume production fabrication. A wide range of resins with different properties is available for this method, allowing the parts to match the properties of the final product. The final cost per unit is typically very inexpensive, even after factoring in the cost of the mould, but the initial non-recurring engineering cost of the mould requires a significant up-front investment.
  • Casting is in some ways similar to injection moulding but uses a master model that has been fabricated using another method, such as SLA, to create a silicone rubber mould. Liquid urethane thermoset resin is then used to generate the prototype. The urethane can be made to match almost any colour or texture. These parts are highly cost-effective but have limited use in functional testing.

Whatever your proof-of-principle prototype needs might be, there is a suitable rapid prototype method that exists that requires only a CAD model and material/finish selection. It is always important to consider the method, time to fabricate, cost of the prototype part, and the manufacturer, as the quality of a part varies rapidly between one fabricator and the next.