How Rapid Prototyping Works

Rapid prototyping success can make or break new product development. We use a combination of quick-turn traditional and additive manufacturing processes to produce functional prototypes directly from a three-dimensional CAD file. Capable of achieving complex and precise part features, rapid prototypes are a critical step to prove out your concept and ensure part design, materials, and methods are dialed in before volume production begins.


Here’s how our rapid prototyping solutions can help you:

  • Iterate multiple prototypes between digital designs and physical prototypes.
  • Produce fully-functional prototypes and production-quality parts in a short amount of time.
  • Quickly explore concepts and get them to market faster without sacrificing quality or consistency.
  • Reduce (or in some cases, remove) tooling requirements by using the same equipment for prototyping and production.

Our Rapid Prototyping Capabilities

With our next-level material matching capabilities, we can guide you to ensure your prototype is made from the most suitable materials for your application and production requirements. We can also achieve multiple prototype iterations to help streamline the development process.

Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)

Direct Metal Laser Sintering
Our DMLS technology utilizes powerful powder bed fusion to build your metal prototypes with short lead times — ideal for quick-turn, highly- complex geometries.

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

Open block of 3D printing cylinder petrol engine. Close-up, industrial metalworking concept
SLS is an inexpensive 3D printing option that allows you to control the degree of material melting for strong, flexible prototypes and complex geometries.

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

Vestas prototyping fitting
Our FDM 3D printing optimizes prototype designs with controlled printer specifications to help you reduce material & labor waste while delivering speed and precision.

Stereolithography (SLA)

Big abstract object of blue color printed on a 3d printer on a white table
Our SLA technologies quickly build your precision parts with superior surface finishes and mechanical properties.

HP Multi Jet Fusion (MJF)

Person holding object printed on powder industrial 3D printer.
As an HP Digital Manufacturing Network Partner, our MJF technology delivers superior, one-of-a-kind parts with complex internal and external 3D geometries - printed in as little as one day.

Polyjet (PJP)

Plumbing, sewage. Gray polypropylene tubes on a white background in futuristic style
Our polyjet process creates realistic prototypes for your quick form-fit checks by utilizing liquid photopolymers deposited in droplets and cured with a UV light source.

CNC Prototyping

Experienced worker changing tool setup of lathe machine
Our CNC prototyping utilizes a wide range of materials to produce large, highly-complex prototypes directly from your CAD files. Choose painted, plated, polished, or clear surfaces.

Sheet Metal Prototyping

The sample of sheet metal plate in the light blue scene.
We transform sheet stock material into your cut, bent, and formed part or assembly for accurate parts in prototype quantities from single parts to low-volume batches.

Rapid Prototyping Processes Comparison

ProcessDescriptionIdeal For
3D Printing/Additive ManufacturingBuilds physical objects layer by layer from a digital design, allowing for quick and precise prototyping of complex geometriesPrototypes with complex geometries, customized designs, and intricate details across various industries, including aerospace, automotive, medical, and consumer goods
CNC MachiningUses automated tools to remove material from a block or sheet, allowing for precise and accurate prototyping of parts from various materialsFunctional prototypes, low-volume production parts, and components that require high precision and accuracy in industries such as automotive, aerospace, electronics, and engineering
Rapid Injection MoldingUses soft molds and thermoplastic materials to quickly produce small quantities of injection-molded parts, allowing for functional prototypes and low-volume productionPrototyping parts with thermoplastic materials, testing functionality, and producing low-volume production runs for consumer products, electronics, and automotive components
Sheet Metal PrototypingSheet metal fabrication techniques, such as laser cutting, bending, and welding, enable rapid prototyping of metal components with precise dimensions and geometriesQuick production prototypes of sheet metal components used in industries such as automotive, appliances, electronics, and enclosures
Rapid ToolingUtilizing techniques like 3D printing or CNC machining, rapid tooling allows for the quick production of molds or tooling inserts, enabling faster iteration and production of partsQuick production of molds or tooling inserts for injection molding, die-casting, or other manufacturing processes, enabling faster iterations and production of parts in various industries
SLA/DLP Resin CastingStereolithography (SLA) or Digital Light Processing (DLP) 3D printing technologies can be used to create master patterns, which are then used for resin casting to produce multiple copies of prototypesSmall-scale prototypes or low-volume production runs with high-quality surface finish and intricate details in industries such as jewelry, art, and consumer goods

NextGen Zip Tie Case Study

With the help of their new HP Jet Fusion 3D 4200 Printer, UPTIVE was able to produce their client’s product at a level of quality that was comparable to what could be mass manufactured. The part was both strong and flexible.  Download this case study to learn more.

Learn More

Why Customers Choose UPTIVE

  • "We just inspected some of the INVAR machined parts that recently arrived from our latest project with you and wanted to pass along how nicely they turned out. The dimensions were spot on and fit & finish looked great. The ultem (PEI) parts on this order also turned out great!"
    Tom, Advanced Laser And Electro-Optical Solutions Company
  • "We received this cast urethane order and are very impressed with the quality. Great job, thanks again."
    Chris, Industrial Equipment Manufacturer

Latest Insights

Embracing Earth Day Every Day: The Environmental Benefits of Domestic Manufacturing

CNC Machining
In the wake of Earth Day, it’s pivotal to reflect on our industrial…
Learn More

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Rapid Prototyping: Maximizing ROI

Rapid prototyping success can make or break new product development. It is a…
Learn More

Top 5 Trends in Traditional Manufacturing for 2024

According to Deloitte’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) data, the manufacturing sector was in…
Learn More
See All Posts

Rapid Prototyping Gallery