Frequently Asked Questions

I need my prototype to look like the final production item; can this be done?

Prototypes can be made to look just like the final production part, and they can also be made to look and feel like the final production part. This subtle difference can translate into a significant price difference so it is worth being clear at the outset what is really required.

For example, if we took a mobile phone, this could be produced as a block model (solid) by RP or CNC machining, painted and printed. Alternatively the mouldings can be produced by CNC machining, then dressed, painted and assembled to produce functional keypads, and simulated displays.

If a level of functionality is required, then ensuring the selected process is sufficiently accurate is vital to achieving the correct feel. Hence in the case of a mobile phone, SLS would be a non-starter and most likely SLA would struggle as well, since clip and slide actions occur within the tolerance of a process layer thickness.

For other larger parts this would not be so applicable and both SLA and SLS have been extensively used for product appearance models.

Achieving a high level of finish relies heavily on model making skills and success or failure is determined by the individual’s skills more than the technology available.

Related Processes

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is the second most commonly used process after Stereolithography (SLA). SLS parts can be produced with high functionality in very short lead times.

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CNC Machining

The benefits of CNC parts include substantial flexibility in material choice, high accuracy and repeatability.

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Stereolithography (SLA)

Produces accurate 3D models with a range of material choices. High Res SLA and Micro SLA for smaller parts.

more info

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