The key is to maximize the rate of learning by minimizing the time to try new ideas. Instead of spending several months of planning what you want to achieve, get a direct experience by creating a prototype really early in the development process. This way, you’ll quickly learn what the real problems are.
Rapid prototyping, also known as fast prototyping, is a process to quickly produce a scale model of a physical part based on 3D CAD data. Additive manufacturing is usually used for rapid prototyping since it often is quicker and cheaper compared to CNC machining, injection moulding or more traditional subtractive methods such as milling, grinding or turning.
Rapid prototyping is often used by product designers to produce representative prototype parts or even prototypes of a complete product. Rapid prototyping also helps in the design and development of new products. It is a very good aid in helping to visualize a future product for a customer, a product board or an investor. With rapid prototyping you gain a more complete picture of how a product will look or perform in the early stage of the design and manufacturing process, allowing changes or improvements to be made early in the process.
Metal additive manufacturing methods, such as selective laser melting, electron beam melting or laser metal deposition, are used for rapid prototyping. It is vital to use the right kind of metal powder for rapid prototyping.