The importance of manual processing in rapid prototyping

By ABC Rapid | Mar 16 , 2023 | Blog

In the prototype industry, when machine production was not popularized in large quantities at the beginning, the production of prototypes was done by hand. Manually processed prototype models were relatively rough. Manual processing required a high level of experience and skills for technicians.

Because it is cut and carved by hand, there are certain restrictions on the hardness of the material and the ease of carving. It can be cut and mended, carved and pinched. These conditions are met, so the clay sculpture at that time was very popular. It has become the largest material for making prototypes. After completing a clay prototype, the surface needs to be shaped and copied, and then a 3D drawing can be made before the mold can be opened for mass production.


If you need to make dozens of prototypes, you can use clay to turn over the mold, that is, the complex molding process. The cost of opening a silicone mold in a prototype processing factory is not very expensive, it can be realized in a few hundred yuan, but because of its low cost, its service life will not be long. Generally, it is about 20 pieces. If the material is poor, it is about 10 times. If it is imported material, it is about 50 times. The service life of transparent materials and soft rubber materials is worse than that of ABS prototype materials.


The complex mold is completed by vacuum injection molding machine. Because it is processed by machine, it is inevitable that there will be some unsatisfactory parts. For example, there will be some places where the vacuum is not in place, and the material of the product will not flow, so air bubbles are generated. This is If it is a defective product, it needs to be remedied manually. The method is to manually add some glue and powder to make it into a paste, just like a mason on a construction site building a house. Workers who complete this process are called hand-grinders. Until now, with 3D printing, laser rapid prototyping, manual processing is also indispensable, and the workpiece after 3D printing needs to be manually polished before it can be colored.


In the past, present and future, no matter how far the machine develops, manual grinding and manual assistance are indispensable, and no other method can replace it. This is also the reason why the prototype is called a prototype.

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