CNC machined components for 3D Printing and Hybrid Prototypes


Model making or prototyping is an important phase of designing a product and manufacturing it using CNC machined components. A prototype is the master draft or the basic version of a device or a part. It becomes the basis for producing that device or component in a very large mass volume. The prototype also highlights the issues that may arise in the real environment when making the device or component. The arrival of 3D printing has changed the techniques used in prototyping. Hybrid modeling is a process which is convenient to use with both CNC and 3D printing. The hybrid process is chosen only after testing the functions of 3D printing, CNC and hybrid processes. 

Prototype making techniques

The commonly used techniques for the prototype creation process is 3D printing, CNC and hybrid modeling. In the following sections, each of these techniques are discussed in detail: 

  1. CNC prototyping method:

 CNC machines convert the data generated through computation into solid objects. It uses the CAD model details to create its manufacturing code. Since CNC is a subtractive process there is no room for error in the continuous removal of layer after layer of block material to create the work piece. Hands the CID model demands precession and functional testing of the CAD model is a very important step. CNC manufactured prototyping therefore uses the computer aided design model to create a look-alike of the end product. Therefore, this type of prototype is ideal for testing operations and functions of an end product. 

  1. 3D printing prototype

The major use of 3D printing is seen in the additive manufacturing processes. In contrast to the CNC machine, where layer after layer is removed, in 3D printing layer after layer is added to create the product. The sections are constructed using computer aided design (CAD) models. Therefore the technique is very fast and requires no skilled labor. Secondly the process can be automated end-to-end thereby saving man hours on the work floors. More importantly it’s biggest advantage is the capability to manufacture tiny prototypes to large scale prototypes. Hence this allows manufacturers to scale their processes and include complex product making as well. The main areas where 3D printing is used is testing a part design that may need to be changed or modified. It also provides the scale to manufacture multiple products at the same time. The major limitation of 3D printing is the lack of printing material as per demand. 

  1. Hybrid modeling prototype 

This solution for prototyping is considered as an alternative process for hardware as well as software prototypes. It is essentially used in manufacturing as well as functional testing of prototypes. In hybrid prototype modeling, manufacturers bring alive interconnection of software and functioning hardware. The connection is tested and its functionality reported. The hybrid model is the most important prototype to debug software products and detect flaws in the hardware prototypes. Virtual realization window also gives the machinist a complete overview of the functionality. However in hybrid modeling the capability to rectify errors in the prototype with a single sheet of material has the largest ROI. 

3D printing an Hybrid Prototyping with CNC machined components

Unlike CNC machined components prototyping, hybrid modeling prototype uses detailed designing and verification of the technical functionality.CNC modeling focuses on testing the function and its capability. On the other hand, the 3D printing prototype allows the building or layer-by-layer construction of a product using the same CAD model as used in CNC machining. The most important draft or engineering drawing that decides the making of the prototype is the CAD model. When companies want to test only some parts of the product or device being manufactured the most ideal modeling technique is 3D printing prototyping. This allows the client as well as technicians to examine the component or part and validate its production. When the need to manufacture software driven products is needed, hybrid modeling is most effective. It gives manufacturers the scope to test and identify errors. In the second stage it allows them to rectify the floors and ensure smooth compatibility of the parts with the products.

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