Rapid prototyping is a technique in which the physical modeling of a design is done with the help of specialized machining technology. It was developed initially in the mid-1980s, the principle used in this technology is of solid modeling with the help of computer programs (i.e. CAD). Solid modeling makes use of computer aided-design (CAD) data to completely describe not just the external shape of parts or equipment, but its interior volume as well as the outside surfaces.
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The computer model is sliced into thin layers and the part of the product or commodity to be modelled or developed as per the requirement, is eventually fabricated by adding layers onto each other.The primary benefit of the system is that almost any shape can be manufactured using computerized programs. Time and money savings vary from 50% to 90% compared to conventional systems.
Rapid prototyping systems ideally operate by themselves, however once completed, the fabricated models need certain post-operations. The post operation processes include surface finishing and support removal.
Polymers are usually preferred as rapid prototyping materials keeping in mind their low cost and easy availability. Commonly used raw materials in rapid prototyping materials include polycarbonate, polyphenylsulfone, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), metals, elastomers, nylons, thermoplastics, and composites such as ferrous materials, nonferrous materials, and ceramics.
The technique of rapid prototyping is used widely in fields such as rapid tooling, rapid manufacturing, aerospace and marine, automotive rapid prototyping services, health care, architecture, interior design, textiles, fashion, jewelry, coin making, table wares, and sculpting. Among these applications, health care and aerospace are expected to dominate the market in the near future. Rise in demand for rapid prototyping for critical components in the aerospace sector is anticipated to drive the market for rapid prototyping materials during the forecast period. Rapid prototyping is employed widely in the manufacture of implants, prosthetics, surgical equipment, etc. in the health care industry. Thus, demand for rapid prototyping is increasing in the fields mentioned above.
Low cost and easy availability of raw materials are also estimated to give a boost to the global market for rapid prototyping materials. North America is a dominant region in the rapid prototyping materials market, due to the presence of developed industries. Europe is a major supplier of raw materials for rapid prototyping. Certain countries such as Germany, France, the U.K., and Italy in Europe are providing ample scope for growth to major players in the rapid prototyping materials market.
The rapid prototyping materials market in Asia Pacific is projected to witness substantial growth in the next few years. This can be primarily ascribed to the increase in demand for rapid prototyping materials in vital industries such as health care, aerospace, and
Key players operating in the market of rapid prototyping materials market include Agile Manufacturing Inc., ProtoCAM, EOS GmbH Electro Optical Systems, Carpenter Technology Corporation, GmbH Electro Optical Systems, LPW Technology Ltd., Lithoz GmbH, Materialise NV, Oxford Performance Materials, 3D Systems Corporation, and Stratasys Ltd., etc.
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