Additive Manufacturing

Rapid Prototyping 161

Rapid Prototyping 161 provides an overview of the process, materials, and applications of rapid prototyping in additive manufacturing. Rapid prototyping uses various additive manufacturing strategies to test, analyze, and refine a part prototype before putting it into full production. As the prototype develops, additive manufacturing strategies can help reduce costs without affecting part quality.

After taking this class, users will be able to define what additive manufacturing is and describe how it functions and is deployed with prototyping. Additionally, users will better understand the advantages and usefulness of rapid prototyping and appreciate the design and development steps needed to create a prototype with additive manufacturing.

  • Difficulty Beginner

  • Format Online

  • Number of Lessons 9

  • Language English


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Course Outline
  • Introduction to Additive Manufacturing
  • Design for Additive Manufacturing
  • Prototyping
  • Rapid Prototyping Types
  • Design and Prototyping Review
  • Rapid Processes for Prototyping
  • Rapid Prototyping Applications
  • Rapid Prototyping: Next Steps
  • Final Review
  • Describe additive manufacturing.
  • Describe the five steps of the part design process.
  • Describe prototyping.
  • Contrast conceptual and functional models.
  • Describe the basic processes for creating a rapid prototype.
  • Describe applications for rapid prototyping.
  • Describe how manufacturers can apply rapid prototyping.
Vocabulary Term

3D printing

The process of producing a 3D object using a specialized tool that creates successive layers of material. 3D printing must technically involve the use of a print head or nozzle, but the term is often used interchangeably with additive manufacturing (AM).

additive manufacturing

AM. The process of joining or solidifying materials to make an object based on a three-dimensional computer model. Additive manufacturing methods typically build up layers of material to create an object.


Additive manufacturing. The process of joining or solidifying materials to make an object based on a three-dimensional computer model. AM methods typically build up layers of material to create an object.

bar stock

Raw material in the form of long bars or cylinders. Bar stock is commonly used in metal manufacturing processes.


A design representing the specific dimensions and production considerations for a part or prototype. Blueprints are created during the design phase of design for manufacturing (DFM).


Computer-aided design. A computer system used to design a model of a product. CAD models are converted into STL format for use by additive manufacturing machines.

computer numerical control

CNC. A programmable system of software and hardware that directs the operation of a machine. Computer numerical control systems use mathematical data to direct machine movements.

computer-aided design

CAD. A computer system used to design a model of a product. Computer-aided design models are converted into STL format for use by additive manufacturing machines.

conceptual models

A nonfunctional model used to physically demonstrate design ideas for a part. Conceptual models are often composed of polymer and made using additive manufacturing (AM) processes such as material extrusion or vat photopolymerization.


To form an idea about a possible part or manufactured good. Conceptualization is one of the initial stages of design for manufacturing (DFM) or design for additive manufacturing (DFAM).


Protection against criminal or unauthorized access to computer networks, programs, and data. Cybersecurity has become a major industrial concern as networking and connectivity have increased.


The process of creating the actual part specifications. Designing involves creating the blueprints and prototypes for a part.

direct metal laser sintering

DMLS. An additive manufacturing process that uses a laser to bond successive layers of material in a bed of powdered metal. Direct metal laser sintering can produce complex metal parts, though they often require extensive post processing.


The treatment of a surface to remove roughness and irregularities and improve its appearance. Finishing processes include sanding, heat treating, and painting.

functional prototype

A part model produced through additive manufacturing that represents the composition and design of the final part. Functional prototypes are used to test how a part will perform in its intended application.


The ability of a part to optimally perform a set purpose. Functionality is a key design consideration.

G code

A method of programming that pairs address letters with numerical values to form words. G code programs are used in additive manufacturing, CNC machining, and hybrid machining.

hard tools

Higher quality of molds that are usually made of metal. Hard tools have long lifespans suitable for long production runs, but are expensive to manufacture.


The physical equipment used in a computer system. Hardware includes a computer screen, keys, and power supply.

honeycomb structures

A type of built structure in which empty cells are separated from each other by a solid wall. Honeycomb cells can be square or hexagonal.

intellectual property

IP. Any unique idea, creative expression, or knowledge that originated from, or is owned by, a specific person or business. Intellectual property is not physical but has commercial value.

iterative design

Repeatedly testing a prototype. Iterative design requires testing different variations to a part before putting it into full production.

lattice structures

A repeating, symmetrical pattern of crossing strips of material that leave diamond- or square-shaped gaps between them. Lattice structures provide excellent strength to a part.


Replacing one part or object with a lighter version for identical use. Lightweighting is a manufacturing concept that lighter parts will lead to greater efficiency.


A subtractive manufacturing process that involves removing material to form an object. Machining includes methods such as milling, turning, and drilling that remove metal using cutting tools.


A multi-point cutting tool that is used to remove metal from the surface of a workpiece. Mills are used to cut materials to the near net-shape of a final part.


A hollow cavity that holds heated liquid material and imparts its shape on the material as it cools. Molds with exceptional accuracy can be created using an additively manufactured prototype as the basis for the model.

multimaterial gradients

The use of multiple materials to create additive manufacturing (AM) objects. Multimaterial gradients allows for greater innovation with AM processes like rapid prototyping.


To procure products or services from an outside company. Part makers that outsource processes must still meet company requirements.


Assessing the ways to best create the conceptualized part. Planning involves initial considerations of the design and of the practical concerns related to the manufacturing process.


A procedure, or series of procedures, for transforming constructed parts into their final size, shape, and structure. Cutting, drilling, assembly, buffing, and coating are post processing operations.


The manufacturing of a finished part for delivery to a customer. Production is the final stage of design for manufacturing (DFM).


A preliminary model of a part used to evaluate the look and performance of a design. Prototypes are used to determine the specifications for the final part.

rapid prototyping

A product development technique in which additive manufacturing (AM) methods are used to create prototypes for a traditional manufacturing operation. Rapid prototyping allows engineers to quickly create a number of prototypes in a short time period, reducing lead time.

raw materials

An unprocessed or lightly-processed object or substance used to make a finished part. Raw materials in manufacturing include metal, plastic, and ceramic.


All of the tasks and preparations necessary to prepare for a machining operation. Setup can include preparing machines as well as collecting paperwork, tools, and materials.


A polymer that can exist in various forms. Silicones are known for their heat and weather resistance.

soft tools

Lower quality molds that are usually made of composite materials like silicone or carbon fiber. Soft tools have a short lifespan but can be useful for short production runs.


STL. Computer files that represent 3D models as a series of interconnected triangles. Stereolithography files are converted from CAD files and are used in additive manufacturing machines.

support structure

Additional material used in the additive manufacturing process to support the product as it is being constructed. Support material is removed from the AM product as part of the additive manufacturing process.


The examination of a part to ensure that it performs its intended function and that it can be satisfactorily manufactured. Testing indicates whether the part needs additional planning or if it is ready for production.


3D. Occurring within three planes of space. Three dimensional objects have length, height, and width.


The arrangement of geometric or material components in a part. The topology of additively manufactured parts can be particularly complex because AM is capable of creating intricate shapes.


2D. Having height and width. Two-dimensional objects are flat and lack depth.