Below is the current issue of an e-mail newsletter that I issue every month
or two. I am sending this Quick Tip to the RP list because it concerns
rapid prototyping methods. Should you wish to be on continuing distribution
for this series, just let me know.
How can we really benefit from rapid prototyping?
Rapid prototyping has arisen over the past fifteen years. It
allows product developers to make physical parts from designs
in hours, in contrast to the weeks required by traditional
machining methods. Most of those doing rapid prototyping focus
on making parts still faster or on making better parts. For
instance, they strive to make parts that are stronger, cheaper,
or more environmentally friendly.
Amazingly, few companies are taking full advantage of the latent
timesavings in rapid prototyping. Yes, they do make models
faster, and this saves them some time overall. But they have
not redesigned their development processes to reap major gains.
To use an analogy, they now use cellular phones -- but only
from their offices -- as this is where they have always done
This topic is timely, because the newest generation of rapid
prototypers, variously called desktop modelers, conceptual
modelers, or 3D printers, offer great potential for overcoming
major development delays. These rapid prototyping systems are
especially valuable in the fuzzy front end of development (for
details on the fuzzy front end, see Chapter 3 of Developing
Products in Half the Time, http://www.NewProductDynamics.com/book.htm).
For example, large fuzzy-front-end delays often stem from obtaining
approval from marketing or sales for a concept that engineering
has developed. Lots of quick models are perfect for "forcing"
a decision at this point, which often saves weeks or months
from normal corporate decision-making cycles. Few companies
recognize this opportunity; still fewer are doing anything
To pursue this topic, see our paper "Rapid Prototyping Accelerates
the Design Process," at
Citation information for this Quick Tip: ISSN 1529-1928, 3
These Quick Tips are intended to maintain contact. Thus, to
dig deeper into today's Tip, please contact us or visit our
Preston G. Smith CMC
New Product Dynamics
+1 (503) 248-0900
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