In today’s product devolopment process, engineers pay more and more attention to usage of Prototypes, because prototypes help a lot for engineers to verify their design before mass production which could avoid the potential design issues.

So, the Rapid prototyping industry grows due to the plenty needs from engineers. Today in this blog, we will help you understand everything about rapid prototypes.

what is a prototype?

A prototype is an early physical sample or model of a product made by rapid prototyping techniques to test a concept or process during the product devolopment. it allows you to check design concept before investing time and money into development.

Why rapid prototyping in product development

Usually, Prototype is the first step to verify the feasibility of the product. It is the most direct and effective way to find out the defects of the designed product, so to make targeted improvements, prototypes are needed until the defects can’t be found from individual prototype samples.

types of Prototypes by process

Manual prototype:

Clay sculpture: When there was no automatic equipment in the early stage of industrial manufacturing, Carving clay into a three-dimensional product by hand was used to make prototypes. The material used in clay sculpture is hard oil mud, which is generally carried out by manual carving.

Machined prototype:

Machined prototpye is completed with automatic machine tools, according to the different equipment used, it can be divided into RP prototype (3D printing) and CNC prototype.

A: RP prototype: 

It is produced by 3D printing technology. 3D printing is usually achieved using digital technology material printers.RP prototypes are widely used in the fields of jewelry, footwear, industrial design, architecture, automotive, aerospace and more.

3D printing has low cost and fast cycle time, RP prototypes can be integrally formed regardless of the complexity of the product structure. it is an important supplement rather than a substitute for traditional processing methods.

B: CNC prototype.

CNC machining is a traditional prototype manufacturing process. It is widely used in many fields such as 3C industry, Automotive industry and medical industry. The prototype produced by the CNC machining process can accurately reflect the information expressed in the drawing, and the quality of the prototype is good.

RP Prototype VS CNC Prototype

Compared with CNC prototypes, the advantages of RP prototypes are mainly reflected in its rapidity, but it is mainly formed by stacking technology, so RP prototypes have rough surface.

The advantage of CNC prototype is that it can accurately machined the workpiece to achieve the dimension request in the drawing, and the surface quality of CNC prototype is high, Therefore, CNC prototype manufacturing has increasingly become the mainstream of the prototype manufacturing industry.

types of Prototypes by materials

Prototypes can be divided into plastic prototypes, silicone prototypes, and metal prototypes according to the materials used in the production.

plastic prototypes

A plastic prototype enables you to work with the physical representation of your plastic product as quickly as possible through rapid plastic prototyping technology. Its raw material is plastic, for example, Acrylic, ABS, Polycarbonate, Nylon. the examples of some plastic prototypes, such as TV, monitor, telephone and so on.

Silicon prototypes

Silicone prototypes’s raw material is silica gel, which is mainly a prototype for displaying product shapes, such as cars, mobile phones, toys, handicrafts, daily necessities, etc.

metal prototypes

Metal prototypes are made by metal manufacturing technique like CNC machining, casting or sheet metal forming. Its raw materials are metal materials such as aluminum alloys. metal prototypes of some high-end products, incldue notebook computers, engine parts and more.

types of Prototypes by Function

According to the desired function, it can be divided into appearance prototype, mechanical prototype and functional prototype:

  • Appearance prototype: Mainly inspect the appearance design of the product, requiring exquisite appearance, accurate color, and low requirements for internal processing.
  • mechanical prototype: It mainly tests the structural function of the product, which has high requirements for size and low requirements for appearance.
  • Functional prototype: It is required to achieve the same appearance, structure and function as the real product. It can be understood as an unlisted finished product, which is the most demanding and difficult type of prototype.

Advantages of Rapid Prototyping

Reduced product development cost

Prototypes can help reduce the time of design iterations, material wastage, and production errors early in the development stage, it leads to cost savings throughout the product development lifecycle.

Allow testing

A tangible prototype allows engineers test and retest each design and refining them as production continues and incorporate materials or designs changes for better results.

Increases user participation

Feedbacks from users can be collected with a tangible prototypes in their hands. With their immediate feedback, changes and improvements can be implemented in the design. It can eliminate misunderstandings and miscommunication during the product development process.

reduction of risk

Due to the cost of mold manufacturing is high, if unreasonable structures or other problems are found during the process of mold launching, it will be a big loss. Prototypes can avoid this loss and reduce the risk of mold launching.


Engineers can use prototypes for product promotion before the mold is launched, and even pre-sales and production preparations to occupy the market early.

Applications of Rapid Prototyping

With the advantages of rapid pototyping in product development, numerous industries like automotive, aerospace, medical, jewelry use rapid manufacturing technologies. Here are some of the most notable industrial applications:

Medical device Industry 

Rapid prototyping is widely used for Medical equipment, beauty tools, manicure tools, fitness equipment prototypes creating. They shorten the time to market and help further in research. 

Consumer Electronics 

Nearly all household electrical appliances have prototypes through rapid prototyping technologies to accelerate the design process, such as Monitors, humidifiers, juice machines, vacuum cleaners, air conditioning panels.

Automotive industry

Car lights prototype in Auotomotive lighting, bumpers, seats, electric cars usually use prototypes to identify potential design issues.

Aerospace industry

Heat exchangers, engine, conformal cooling channels use rapid prototyping techniques to reduce the risk of design by testing , beacuse there are all components requires safety.


Rapid prototyping enable you bring your ideas to reality quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively. KUSLA prototype, as a leading rapid prototype supplier in China, could help you Incorporate rapid prototyping into your product development process.

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