3D Printing Technology makes rapid prototyping affordable

Domestic Desktop 3D printers such as Ultimaker allow rapid prototyping to be much more affordable.

What is Rapid Prototyping? It is the various types of technology that enables the fast fabrication of physical models using three-dimensional digital models.

In order for an idea to be realised as a physical model, 3D printing requires the necessary software and hardware. On the software side, a 3D modelling program that is capable of creating STL files is required. 3D modelling programs can be quite costly, adding substantial cost. This is especially so for 3D programs such as professional CAD (Computer Aided Design) software. Fortunately, there are free opensource 3D modelling programs that can output decent STL files. One such free 3D modelling program is Blender.

print3d

Blender 3D open source program offering tools for 3D printing (as illustrated above).

In order for a model to be physically fabricated, it must meet certain requirement. For example, the completed model must be fully enclosed just like a real solid in the physical world. In this aspect, modelling for physical prototyping is more stringent than modelling for visual purposes only.

Traditionally, rapid prototyping machines can cost tens of thousands of dollars or more. However with the advent of desktop 3D printers (that are aimed for domestic and home usage), prices can be as low as below 1000 USD. Rapid prototyping is typically regarded as a technology used by engineering and design professionals. However, the availability of new low cost 3D printers will open up new creative possibilities for consumers and hobbyists. Although Rapid prototyping technologies have been in existence for decades, it is only in recent years that low cost versions of them are available.

The low price entry point is enabling home users to fabricate their own designs and creations. The main hurdle of home users and hobbyist, however, is the technical know-how required. As of this writing, there is still a significant learning curve required in realising 3D ideas into physical creations.

Studiorola Designer can teach Blender for the purpose of 3D Printing. Click here for more info on 3D printing course in Singapore.

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