The production and usefulness of automotive rapid prototypes

The production and usefulness of automotive rapid prototypes


In the automotive industry, the development of new vehicles and components requires a thorough and iterative design process. One essential aspect of this process is the creation of rapid prototypes, which play a crucial role in accelerating innovation and improving the overall efficiency of automotive design and manufacturing. In this blog post, we will explore the production process of automotive rapid prototypes and discuss their usefulness in the automotive industry.

1. The Importance of Rapid Prototyping in Automotive Design

Rapid prototyping is a technique that allows automotive engineers and designers to quickly create physical models of new vehicle designs or components. These prototypes serve as tangible representations of the concepts and ideas generated during the design phase. By creating rapid prototypes, automotive companies can evaluate the feasibility of their designs, identify potential issues early in the development process, and make necessary adjustments before moving forward to mass production.

2. Types of Rapid Prototyping Technologies Used in the Automotive Industry

Various rapid prototyping technologies are utilized in the automotive industry, each offering unique benefits and capabilities. Some of the commonly used rapid prototyping technologies include:

  • Stereolithography (SLA): SLA uses a laser to cure liquid resin into solid plastic, allowing for the creation of detailed and accurate prototypes.
  • Selective Laser Sintering (SLS): SLS employs a laser to sinter powdered material, such as plastic or metal, to form three-dimensional prototypes.
  • Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM): FDM extrudes thermoplastic material layer by layer to build prototypes.
  • PolyJet Printing: PolyJet technology uses inkjet-style print heads to jet liquid photopolymer onto a build platform to produce high-resolution prototypes.

Each of these rapid prototyping technologies offers specific advantages and is chosen based on the requirements of the automotive project.

3. The Production Process of Automotive Rapid Prototypes

The production process of automotive rapid prototypes typically involves several steps:

Step 1: Design and CAD Modeling

The process begins with the creation of a digital 3D model of the automotive component or vehicle design using computer-aided design (CAD) software. The CAD model serves as the basis for the rapid prototype.

Step 2: Selection of Rapid Prototyping Technology and Material

Based on the design requirements and specifications, the appropriate rapid prototyping technology and material are chosen. Factors such as part complexity, accuracy, and mechanical properties influence this selection.

Step 3: Printing or Manufacturing

The chosen rapid prototyping technology is used to manufacture the physical prototype. The printing or manufacturing process involves building the prototype layer by layer according to the digital CAD model.

Step 4: Post-Processing and Finishing

After the rapid prototype is printed, post-processing and finishing steps may be required. This could include removing support structures, sanding, painting, or assembling various components of the prototype.

4. Usefulness of Automotive Rapid Prototypes

Design Validation

One of the primary uses of automotive rapid prototypes is design validation. By physically examining and testing the prototypes, designers and engineers can verify the functionality, fit, and form of their designs. This allows for early detection and resolution of design flaws, reducing costly errors in later stages of development.

Concept Visualization

Rapid prototypes provide a tangible representation of the design concept, making it easier for stakeholders to visualize and understand the final product. This enhances communication between teams and enables effective decision-making during the design process.

Cost and Time Savings

The use of rapid prototypes can significantly reduce the time and cost of automotive development. By quickly identifying design issues and making necessary adjustments, companies can avoid costly mistakes and shorten the overall development cycle.

Customization and Personalization

Rapid prototyping allows for the customization and personalization of automotive components and parts. This is particularly useful for luxury vehicles or specialty automotive applications where uniqueness and individuality are valued.


Automotive rapid prototypes are a critical tool in the automotive design and manufacturing process. They enable engineers and designers to validate designs, visualize concepts, save time and cost, and offer customization possibilities. By embracing rapid prototyping technologies, automotive companies can drive innovation, enhance product development, and deliver high-quality vehicles to meet the ever-changing demands of the automotive market.

Walking in the street, you can see different styles and brands of cars everywhere; as we all know, a brand a series of models will always be constantly updated, a series, two series …… but do you know? The birth of a car poured a lot of effort, not a simple design can be. Tests, prototypes, etc. are all necessary links. So, with the existence of prototypes, there is also the moniker of automotive quick prototype.

What is an automotive prototype?

Simply put, it is a group of automotive parts that are built according to a design to make up a prototype car. Prototypes play an important role in the development of new models to support the design and check the design, reduce design problems, and shorten production line time during mass production.

How are rapid prototypes for automobiles made and what are the processes used to make them? Nowadays, rapid prototyping in the automotive industry mostly relies on rapid prototyping technology, which is a new manufacturing technology developed in the 1990s and has a positive role in promoting enterprise product innovation, shortening the development cycle of new products and improving product competitiveness.

The automotive industry is very much changing models and also very much platforming, which means there are more platforming on the interior and exterior often reshape, so the production of automotive rapid prototype parts can be divided into two parts, one is interior and exterior trim, and the other is sheet metal parts. Different parts use different rapid prototyping technologies, and there are differences in production processes and materials.

Interior and exterior trim: Most of them adopt vacuum casting, RIM, injection molding and vacuum introduction or hand gluing molding. Sheet metal parts: steel, substitute wood CNC processing, resin mold as well as casting zinc and iron alloy CNC are used.

What are the production processes of automotive quick sample parts?

One: SLA prototype manufacturing, through UV laser scanning photosensitive resin, layered stacking manufacturing, process: CAD data – MagicRP processing data – SLA equipment manufacturing prototype – -Prototype post-processing. It has the advantages of high precision, speed and high flexibility, but it is just more expensive.

Second: vacuum injection molding, in the upper and lower type of silicone rubber mold, under vacuum injection of two liquid type resin molding, process: SLA prototype – silicone rubber type – silicone rubber separation – prototype Demold – silicone rubber mold – vacuum injection. It has the advantages of higher precision and shorter production time, but the disadvantage is higher cost and less production quantity.

Third: RIM, mixing two liquid type resins under a certain pressure into epoxy resin or other hard mold, process: prototype or master model – making upper mold – making lower mold – closing mold Assembly – low pressure injection. Low cost, fast and suitable for large parts, but low precision and need special equipment.

With the application of these technologies, rapid prototype parts for automobiles are created, and the prototypes composed of them can be seen and touched, and problems can be identified to facilitate improvement and promote better development of the automotive industry.

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