Comparing Traditional to 3D Printed Prototyping

Date: July 11, 2023

Prototyping is crucial in manufacturing, influencing product design and development success. However, traditional prototyping methods often come with drawbacks leading to the rise of 3D printing prototyping as a substantial upgrade. Read on to discover the benefits of 3D printing and how it is revolutionising our prototyping process here at Dean Group.

metal casting

Old Methods of Prototyping

Traditional prototyping methods such as die-casting and injection moulding have been the go-to techniques for bringing designs to life in past manufacturing. Die-casting involves the creation of precise metal castings by injecting molten metal into a pre-designed mould cavity. This method offers several benefits, including producing complex shapes with high accuracy and repeatability. However, die-casting comes with limitations. It requires the creation of expensive tooling, which can be time-consuming and costly. Also, die-casting is unsuited for small production runs or prototypes with frequent design changes.

Another widely used traditional method is injection moulding. This technique involves injecting molten material, typically plastic, into a mould cavity to create the desired shape. Injection moulding has advantages such as high production efficiency, excellent surface finish, and the ability to create intricate designs. However, it also has limitations. Tooling costs and lead times for creating moulds can be substantial. Additionally, injection moulding is better suited for high-volume production runs, making it less cost-effective for smaller quantities or prototypes.

It is important to note that these traditional methods come with considerable costs. The expense of tooling, setup, and production can be significant, especially considering the need for multiple iterations during the prototyping phase. These costs can restrict the ability to explore different design options and hinder the efficient development of new products.

3d printed prototypes

Advanced 3D Printing Prototyping

Let's explore the 3D printing prototyping process and the digital skills re-inventing UK manufacturing. It begins with creating a digital 3D model of the desired object using computer-aided design (CAD) software. This model is then sliced into thin layers using specialised software. The 3D printer reads these layers and builds the object layer-by-layer, adhering to the chosen material through extrusion, curing, or sintering processes. The result is a physical prototype that accurately reflects the digital model. This additive manufacturing process empowers manufacturers to quickly and efficiently produce prototypes, reducing the time and costs associated with traditional manufacturing methods.

3D cad model of manufacturing

Benefits of 3D Printing for Prototyping

Regarding prototyping, 3D printed prototypes offer many benefits compared to traditional methods, making them a game-changer in the manufacturing industry. Firstly, 3D printing is incredibly fast, allowing rapid iterations and shorter lead times. This means design modifications can be implemented swiftly, accelerating product development. Likewise, 3D printing is proven to be more cost-effective than traditional methods. Eliminating the need for expensive tooling and reducing material waste significantly lowers production costs, particularly for small production runs or prototypes.

In terms of efficiency, 3D printing shines as it enables the production of complex geometries and intricate designs that traditional methods may struggle to achieve. The layer-by-layer additive manufacturing process allows for precise detailing and customisation. This versatility will enable manufacturers to choose the most suitable material based on their specific requirements, resulting in functional, reliable prototypes.

3D printing prototyping services

3D Printed Prototyping Service at Dean Group

At Dean Group, we pride ourselves on embracing the power of 3D printing as part of our rapid casting prototyping. With our state-of-the-art 3D printing capabilities, we cater to a diverse range of industries, providing cost-effective and high-quality prototyping solutions.

When you choose Dean Group's 3D printing services, you can access a range of service highlights and customisation options. Our 3D printing for investment casting allows for quick and affordable validation of your product concepts. Based on your CAD data, we create wax replicas of your parts using thermojet (printed) technology, building them layer by layer. This efficient process enables us to provide you with functionally identical castings to their hard-tooled counterparts without needing to commit or pay for tooling.

When it comes to 3D printing, Dean Group stands apart from other service providers. Our dedicated and experienced team ensures that genuine processes and materials are used for all prototypes, guaranteeing the highest quality outputs. This attention to detail allows you to make informed design changes before the product's final release, avoiding costly issues that might arise later. Additionally, our 3D printing service allows for direct comparison testing of alternative design concepts, enabling you to choose the most effective solution for your project.

3D printed product prototypes

Choose Dean Group for Your Rapid Prototyping

At Dean Group, we deeply understand the importance of early issue detection in rapid casting prototyping and embrace 3D printing as the future of prototype manufacturing. That's why we offer comprehensive monitoring and assessment as part of our prototyping services. With over 50 years of experience, we have provided accurate prototypes to many businesses nationwide.

Our expert engineers closely monitor key disciplines such as tolerances, FEA analysis, and tooling design viability. By meticulously tracking these elements, we ensure the production of successful prototypes perfectly tailored to your needs. Don't just take our word for it - explore our case studies, including a specific example of how we transformed a bike immobiliser design from prototyping to production or our larger casting project for the Cloud Cities Barcelona, to see the results of our capabilities and expertise.

Contact us today and experience the Dean Group’s difference in prototyping excellence.

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