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Physical vs. Digital Prototyping

By Edited Jan 28, 2014 0 0

3D Modeling

It is tempting for designers and engineers to suggest that digital prototyping is a faster, more economical way to achieve 3D modeling. This simply is not true. In fact, physical prototyping is more essential to bid modeling than ever before. The ability to feel, touch, and hold conceptual models, makes for a definitive final product.

Preference for tactile exposure to an innovative product is universal among designers, sales people, executives, engineers, and customers alike. A two-dimensional digital sketch, while comprehensive, still lacks durability, and realistic implementation. Physical prototypes reflect the detail of the final product, demonstrating how they will function once they are produced. Timely discernment of a product’s advantages or flaws is the number one selling point of 3D modeling.

Manufacturing engineers find 3D models, which display both function and design, paramount in early development stages. Physical defects or inadequacies in design are sometimes only apparent after the model printing process is finished.  These problems must be addressed and the product’s final appearance must be approved even before production can commence. Technicians are also able to assemble and disassemble parts to see how they can be repaired, reducing the cost of future labor efforts.  The process of editing, disassembling, and refining is much more cost-effective if done with 3D modeling.

Digital prototyping alone cannot effectively meet customer demands. 3D models are a much more intricate rendering of a design, enhancing communication efforts between business executives and their customer base. Marketing and sales people rely on physical prototypes to assess customer feedback, via focus groups, and trade shows.  Physical prototypes can be created in bulk, can be given to customers as samples, and the product can be photographed and marketed before the production process is complete. Ground-breaking and innovative designs become much more accessible with the advent of this technology.

Physical and digital prototyping work best together, and not separate. Graphics are not a suitable replacement for the convenience, and practicality of 3D modeling.  The analyzing and simulating of a product is less cost effective than doing so with a 3D model. Using a 3D printer allows for multiple designs to be produced, faster and more efficiently than ever, with less labor required!  Rapid prototyping takes conceptual modeling to an entirely different level.



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