We have mentioned rapid prototypes a few times in our previous articles. 3D printing manufacturing allows designers and engineers to run through an iterative design process quickly. With 3D printing, they can add in a physical part or assemblies to improve those prototypes with each iteration, creating a powerful rapid prototyping process. In doing so, manufacturers will save time and money — and possibly a few nightmares. 

What is Rapid Prototyping?

Rapid prototyping is the process of fabricating a part or full assembly using 3D printing or computer modeling. This allows designers and manufacturers to quickly test and improve these parts or assemblies, in an iterative design flow. Using additive 3D printing to create these prototypes saves manufacturers time and expense in designing new parts.

Is There A Difference Between 3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping?

There is a difference between 3D printing and rapid prototyping. 3D printing is the process of creating a physical part or assembly for testing purposes. Rapid prototyping is a software (Computer Aided Design – CAD) process designers use to quickly and cheaply modify their designs. By combining 3D printing with iterative design and rapid prototyping, engineers can now design new parts faster and potentially save thousands of dollars on a run of parts with a design flaw.

Advantages and Benefits of Rapid 3D Prototyping

What are the advantages of rapid prototyping, especially when combined with 3D printing?

  • Speed: Being able to create the physical parts faster, multiple iterations at a time even, helping move the process along faster. 
  • Cost Savings and Risk Reduction: The biggest fear of an engineer and the manufacturer is doing a run of flawed parts. Being able to test a part or full assembly for a production run reduces that risk and potentially saves a ton in waste and expense.
  • Innovation: You have the freedom to try new and innovative designs. Run through a few designs in CAD, then print them out and try them. We often find new ways to replace old parts that are more innovative.
  • Assemblies: With 3D printing, you are now able to design full assembly prototypes. You will know ahead of time how the assemblies will perform.
  • Materials: You can choose different materials and colors to give a try with your project.
  • Synergy: With rapid prototyping, there is a synergy between your CAD software and the physical part. The two work hand-in-hand to quickly find your best design.
  • Communication: There’s no better way to communicate a design to the production team, customers, sales, marketing, etc. than to put a part in their hands.


Do you have a concept idea that’s ready for a prototype? Athena 3D Manufacturing can help you rapidly prototype your design and get it ready for full scale production. Get started using our free quote tool, or give us a call now at 480-206-4128.