Prototyping is essential in product development work. For the manufacturer, this is the process of realizing the product design, and it is also the key for the manufacturer to judge whether to choose this product for production. A good product is a multi-faceted inspection and strict control of the prototype creation to ensure that it can play a role in every machine and equipment and maintain the operation of the equipment.
In the eyes of manufacturers, metal prototyping has advantages over other methods and is one of the most widely used methods. Metal prototypes appear in many fields with excellent characteristics of high-temperature resistance, corrosion resistance, and durability. Its applications include, for example, automotive, medical, and electronic industries.
A metal prototype is a physical model of metal used for product design or before mass production. Its creation process included selecting the appropriate metal material, making technology selections, and conducting prototyping and testing. The role of metal prototype creation is to test and evaluate the performance of new products, verify the feasibility of products, and create new products that meet or exceed the manufacturer’s expectations through the review of new products.
Advantages Of Choosing Metal Prototypes
Why are metal prototypes attractive to manufacturers and a popular choice for prototyping? Through the following introduction to it, I believe you have some understanding.
Metals are highly machinable materials that can be prototyped or machined through technology to achieve the required complex shapes or precision.
Metal prototyping creates products that are durable and resistant to wear and tear. Its application in harsh environments does not require frequent replacement and maintenance, reducing maintenance costs.
In terms of technology, rapid provides many high-tech metal prototype creations, and through the manipulation of professionals, the product design is completed through our technology to create the model.
Metal prototyping enables rapid prototyping and is cost-effective in the long run through mass production at low unit costs.
Metal materials are high-strength and corrosion-resistant materials. Prototype creation can have the ability to resist high impact and earthquakes. It can complete the designer’s product test and apply it to various industries.
Processing Technology for Metal Prototypes
Selecting the correct manufacturing process is critical when creating or machining metal prototypes. It enables the metal prototype fabrication of products that conform to the design concept and work properly after being put into use. The specific technical requirements depend on the manufacturer’s requirements for metal prototyping. Among them, the processes we use are as follows:
5-axis technology is a multi-angle cutting creation of metal prototypes by multiple motion axes. It is one of the most commonly used prototyping or processing technologies in the aerospace and electronics industries. And it is made into high-precision products through 5-axis technology. Applications in metal prototyping include impellers, turbine blades, and engines.
1. Realize flexible design. 5-axis simultaneous motion can meet the designer’s multi-angle and complex prototype creation requirements.
2. High surface finish. Products with five-axis technology can achieve high-precision standards, and there is no need for secondary processing.
1. The early stage takes a long time. In the face of complex products with 5-axis technology, it is necessary to repeatedly design and modify product programming, which takes a long time.
2. Expensive. Compared with turning and milling, 5-axis machine tools are more professional equipment and require the technical control of professionals. Therefore, the cost of 5-axis creation or processing is relatively high.
In metal prototyping, CNC milling is the creation of products through the mobile cutting of metal sheets and bars with CNC equipment. Applications using milling technology in metal prototypes include mechanical frames or metal casings of machine equipment.
1. Product creation is fast. The creation process of milling is simple, requires less design and programming time, and can quickly complete the creation of the desired product.
2. Low cost. Choosing to mill for prototyping requires less machinery and labor and is less expensive.
1. There are restrictions on the size of the created material. Milling is suitable for thinner rapid sheet metal or other prototyping.
2. Waste of consumables. Product creation Removal of material to complete cutting and shaping produces a large amount of metal scrap.
Turning is the technology of cutting by rotating machine tools, which has a simple cutting process and can complete the manufacturer’s delivery task in a short time. And suitable for making tubular and circular metal patterns such as shafts, rods, and rings.
1. Suitable for small batches. It is simpler than a milling machine tool and can perform the task of rapidly manufacturing metal prototypes.
2. High quality. Turning machines can produce creations repeatedly and consistently, with tight control over the accuracy of the product to ensure consistent quality from product to product.
1. Shape limitations. Turning rotary tools are more advantageous for cylindrical and circular prototyping.
2. Not suitable for harder metals. For example, metal titanium, because rotating cutting generates a lot of heat, will cause damage to turning machine tools and products.
Rapid Metal Prototyping
Metal prototypes are rapid prototyping, a technique in which a physical model is built layer by layer. It has changed the traditional prototyping technology, can quickly complete the design and production of the prototype, and is a more efficient technology.
1. Less material is used. Rapid prototyping technology can only use the required amount of material, which can effectively reduce the waste of material compared with the material removal technology of machining.
2. Flexible customization. Rapid prototyping allows multiple revisions in metal creation without complex manufacturing tooling.
1. Low surface finish. The surface of the rapid prototyping prototype is relatively rough, and secondary processing is required to complete the finishing process.
2. Size restrictions. Machine tools for rapid prototyping have a specific size range, and prototyping large parts requires consideration of other technical equipment.
Rapid Sheet Metal
It is the cutting, bending, and shaping of sheet metal or other materials to complete the creation of metal prototypes. Applications using turning technology in metal prototypes include automotive parts such as engine blocks, transmissions, and suspension components.
1. High precision. Sheet metal equipment can complete high-precision cutting for metal prototype creation.
2. Less cost. The sheet metal prototype can cut the product into the desired finished shape through the equipment, reducing the cost of rework.
1. There is a limit to the thickness of the material. Thicker materials are more difficult as they may involve bending metal prototypes to create them.
2. Not suitable for mass production. Sheet metal fabrication takes longer to fabricate than other techniques.
Metal 3D printing
3D printing technology uses computer data to construct a 3D model of a metal prototype and creates the final metal prototype through layer-by-layer deposition or other techniques.
1. Flexible customization. 3D printing can build metal prototypes of complex shapes according to customization requirements.
2. Fewer consumables. 3D printing can reduce consumables and only use necessary materials through equipment design.
1. Time-consuming. The design and programming time required for 3D printing prototype models is longer than other creative techniques.
2. Limited production: 3D printing takes a long time and is challenging for high-volume production needs.
Metal Stamping Prototyping
It is the technique of cutting or forming sheet metal or other materials using dies and presses. Specific applications using stamping technology in metal prototypes include door handles, metal control panels, and metal brackets.
1. High precision. Stamping technology is a technology that can create high-precision metal prototypes, and the finished product can meet strict tolerance standards.
2. Suitable for mass production. Stamping equipment has a high-speed production capacity and can quickly complete high-volume tasks.
1. Modify restrictions. It is difficult to modify the stamping die, and a new die is required to meet the modification requirements.
2. Time-consuming. It takes a long time to create molds, and the requirements for rapid production are challenging.
It completes metal prototyping by performing fine wire cutting of metal by electric discharge. Specific applications using wire EDM in metal prototyping include machine gears, valves, and electronic sensors.
1. High efficiency. This technology can quickly complete high-precision metal cutting through high-speed cutting.
2. Strong machinability. The technology can cope with the creation requirements of complex and difficult shapes and different metal materials.
1. The time cost is high. This technology requires program setting or replacement of cutting wires, which takes a long time.
2. The surface smoothness is low. Compared with machining technologies such as milling and turning, wire electric discharge cutting technology has a lower degree of finishing, and the surface after cutting is rougher.
Metal Materials for Metal Prototyping
Which metal to choose for prototyping is one of the things manufacturers must consider.
Metals with good properties can better meet the needs of equipment operation or industrial applications, reducing maintenance and replacement costs.
1. Lightweight. Aluminum is a lightweight material among metals, making it a popular choice for metal prototyping in the aerospace and automotive industries.
2. Corrosion resistance. Aluminum’s corrosion-resistant properties make it suitable for exposure to harsh environments, and its applications include the marine and medical industries.
1. High-cost. Aluminum is more expensive than other metals (steel and copper), making prototyping expensive.
2. Thermal conductivity. Aluminum has high thermal conductivity properties, which makes it difficult to machine and weld in metal prototyping.
The Specific Types Of Aluminum Grades:
Aluminum 6061, Aluminum 6063, Aluminum 6082
1. Strong machinability. Brass can easily cope with the creation requirements in prototyping and completing complex designs.
2. Ductility. Good ductility keeps brass from cracking during complex manufacturing processes.
1. Not resistant to high temperature. Compared with other metals, brass is easy to deform at high temperatures, which affects use.
2. Heavy. Brass is denser and more massive than other metals. Not suitable for handling lightweight application creation requirements.
The Specific Types Of Brass Grades:
Brass C220,Brass C230,Brass C360
1. Conductivity. Copper has excellent conductivity among many metals and is one of the ideal choices for conductive applications.
2. Sustainability. Copper is highly recyclable, which makes it a sustainable choice for prototyping.
1. Easy to oxidize. The ionization energy of copper is low, and metal copper is prone to react when exposed to air.
2. Wear and tear. Copper is one of the softer metals, and its surface is prone to scratches and abrasions.
The Specific Types Of Copper Grades:
pure copper C101, copper C110, Cu-ETP
1. High strength. The high strength of titanium makes it highly resistant to compression and not easily deformed or bent.
2. Sustainability. As an environmentally friendly material, titanium metal can be recycled and recycled.
1. Difficult to process. Titanium is a hard metal that is challenging to cut and bend.
2 Flammability. In powder form, titanium metal is prone to fire and explosion during machining.
The Specific Types Of Titanium Grades:
Ti-6Al-4V, Ti-6Al-4V ELI, Commercially Pure (CP) Titanium
low cost. Steel is one of the most readily available metals, it is easy to manufacture and therefore less expensive.
durability. Steel is a wear-resistant metal that lasts a long time.
easy to rust. Steel is prone to rust when exposed to the environment and requires secondary surface treatment.
scalability. Steel is less ductile and more difficult to weld.
Specific types of titanium grades:
Steel 12L14, Steel 4140, Steel 4130
Stainless steel Prototyping
Easy to clean. The surface of stainless steel is smooth and has a chromium oxide layer, which is not easy to be stained and easy to clean and wipe.
durable. High-strength stainless steel is hard and unbreakable for durability.
The material is brittle. Stainless steel metal tends to become brittle at high temperatures, causing it to crack in the application.
Thermal Conductivity. Stainless steel has poor thermal conductivity and is not suitable for applications in high-temperature environments.
Specific types of titanium grades:
Stainless Steel 304, Stainless Steel SS440C, Stainless Steel 303
When choosing a technology for metal prototyping, we pay attention to many factors. Factors such as the complexity of the prototype design, manufacturing size, manufacturing cost, and manufacturing yield may all affect the final result.
Surface Finishing For Metal Prototypes
After the metal prototype is finished, secondary surface treatment is often required, and the surface treatment can make the surface of the metal prototype smooth, clean, and protected. The specific surface treatment introduction has a look at the content:
It is a surface treatment process that removes sharp edges and burrs on the surface of metal parts by grinding tools.
It is an electrochemical process that can form a protective oxide layer on the metal surface, which can resist corrosion on the surface of the metal prototype and can also be used for metal coloring to improve the appearance of the metal.
Electroplating is a surface treatment process that covers the surface with a metal layer to achieve wear resistance. Commonly used metal layers are nickel, chromium, and copper.
It is a treatment process in which flowing dry powder is applied to the metal surface and fused into a smooth coating by heating. This process is environmentally friendly and economical, but it is not suitable for all metals.
This treatment process is to spray flowing dry powder on the metal surface and fuse it into a smooth coating by heating. This surface treatment uses less material and is economical, but it is not suitable for all metals.
It is the process of treating metal surfaces with polishing tools. This surface treatment improves the appearance of the metal by smoothing or removing surface imperfections.
Passivation is a surface process that uses an acidic solution to remove particles from the metal surface and form a protective layer. It can improve the corrosion resistance of metal prototypes and prolong the service life.
It is sand or other abrasive streams that sandblast metal surfaces, and it is also a surface treatment to clean the metal prototype surface.
Labeling the surface of the metal prototype with words, numbers, symbols, etc., can be used for later tracking or identification.
It selectively removes the surface material of the metal prototype through a chemical solution. It can also make the metal surface etched with exquisite graphics.
Plastic Prototypes vs Metal Prototypes
Metal prototyping is one of the prototyping options for manufacturers and is often compared with plastic prototyping. The need for specific surface treatment depends on the situation of later metal prototyping. The following is an introduction to the two types of prototyping:
Advantages Of Metal Prototypes
Metal prototypes are usually high-strength, impact-resistant, and durable.
Metal prototypes generally have a higher melting point than plastic prototypes, making them suitable for high-temperature aerospace applications.
The metal prototype uses machining to cut and change complex shapes, which has strong machinability.
Disadvantages Of Metal Prototypes
Metal materials are more expensive than plastics, and the consumption and cost of metal prototypes are relatively high.
Metal prototypes are usually heavier than plastic prototypes and may not be the best choice for applications where weight is a concern.
The creation of metal prototypes allows designers to have flexible imagination space, and choose the appropriate manufacturing technology or processing technology to cope with the production of products.
Not only that, by improving the quality of the product during the process of making metal prototypes, the product can be used for a long time in future applications, reducing the time cost of rework for you. It is worth noting that we need to be careful when choosing metal materials so that our metal prototypes can be reliable products.
When it comes to metal prototyping services, Tirapid is a good choice for you. From material selection, technical assistance, and post-testing, there are experts to escort you.