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Rapid prototyping and prototype construction from plastic

Functional prototypes made of high performance plastics

  • Sample components made of abrasion-resistant plastics – From single pieces to series production
  • Additional time savings from simple online ordering and quick delivery: Orders placed before noon can be delivered overnight – no additional charge for orders of more than €150
  • Wide variety of materials: high-performance plastics for prototype construction (Need help with selection?) 
  • Competent consulting for project planning and design 

Our prototyping services

Making ideas tangible – In mechanical engineering, prototypes ensure that models are available quickly, accelerating product development, visualising new concepts, and greatly reducing design errors. In addition to series parts, igus® has a great deal of experience with producing special parts and prototypes for a wide variety of moving applications and can provide your project with professional support.
Find out more about prototype construction with igus

Additive manufacturing

Rapid prototyping with additive manufacturing  

  • Configure 3D models online or upload models
  • No tool costs
  • Prices and and delivery times immediately available
  • Shipped from 24hrs


3D printing service for wear-resistant parts

Machining

Bar stock for constructing prototypes  

  • Great variety of materials
  • Economical for large-volume parts
  • Delivery in as little as seven days
  • Round rod, hollow rod, or plate form


Prototypes made of iglidur® plastics

Rapid Tooling (print2mold)

Prototypes and sample components from injection moulding  

  • Quick, economical tool construction with additive manufacturing
  • All 55 iglidur® materials
  • Ideal for test components and pre-production runs of the original material
  • Special injection-moulded parts in as little as five business days


Rapid Tooling for injection-moulded parts

Fast product development cycle: from rapid prototyping to rapid manufacturing

Injection-moulded parts and series production all from a single source

1. Rapid prototyping: Upload the 3D model of your function component quickly and easily to the online 3D printing service. Here, you immediately see the price, delivery time, and material selection. At the same time, the producibility is tested with respect to wall thicknesses and component size. In 3D printing,  igus® uses only its own plain bearing materials, whose wear resistance is up to 50 times that of conventional 3D printing materials.
 

2. Rapid Tooling (print2mold): If there are special material requirements that the existing 3D printing materials cannot meet, print2mold is used. It is also selected when prototypes or pre-series components are to be made of the later series material. In the print2mold method, additive manufacture is used to make the injection mould out of plastic or metal , which is 80% cheaper than  injection moulds manufactured by conventional means. The moulds manufactured in this way are then used to manufacture your special wear-resistant part in as little as five business days. They can be used for several orders, which allows further cost reduction.  
 

3. Rapid manufacturing: If the prototype material and mould for your application has proven useful, the desired component can be re-ordered with the manufacturing method best suited to it. That method could be Rapid Tooling (10 to 10,000 units), mechanical manufacture from bar stock (10 to 10,000 units), regular injection moulding (3,000 units or more)  or laser sintering (1 to 10,000 units). We would be happy to advise you – igus® will support you in all product development steps.

iglidur® materials for prototype construction

Wear-resistant plastics for quick prototyping with your own plants
Material for rapid prototyping  

  • Filaments 
  • Laser sintering powder


Rapid prototyping material shop

Bar stock for prototype construction  

  • Great variety of materials
  • Round bars, hollow bars, and plates


Plastic bar stock shop

Our customers' applications and references

3D printed plastic gears for prototype construction

Gear made of iglidur® I6 for an electric car charging system

Easelink, a company from Graz, has developed "Matrix Charging", a charging system that automatically connects the bottoms of electric cars with the power supply when they are parked. To design the system to be both economical and high-quality, the designers have chosen gear prototypes made of iglidur® plastics with additive manufacturing. The igus® 3D printing service allowed sample components to be quickly ordered, tested, and adjusted until the ideal solution was reached. iglidur® I6, an especially wear-resistant self-lubricating laser sintering powder is ideally suited to the design of gears, pinions, and other heavily stressed components that must usually be regularly lubricated and maintained and frequently require replacement.  

From prototype to series production for cutting and winding machines

Sample components for continuous innovation

The plain bearings made of the proven iglidur materials, which are supplied from the igus 3D printing service, allow us to design completely new solutions for various applications in our cutting and winding machines due to the individual geometrical designs. The printed components are now also used in batch-produced components. New developments can also be quickly implemented and tested thanks to the test samples that are usually provided at very short notice.
 
Dipl.-Ing. Ulrich Vedder 
Kampf Schneid- und Wickeltechnik GmbH & Co. KG

Rapid prototyping and series production

Dry operation plain bearings made of iglidur® bar stock in an ophthalmologist's microscope

Extremely high precision for medical technology applications

An ophthalmologist's split lamp must be very easy to move, and its axes require high-precision guides because the microscope magnifies any irregularity fortyfold.  To solve this problem, A. R. C., Laser collaborated with igus® to produce a customised solution: a bearing made of the iglidur® J bar stock with especially thin walls and cut-outs for electric cables.  The intense endurance tests with prototypes performed by A. R. C., over months also provide evidence of the long service life of the precision bearing on the microscope arm.  

Wear-resistant injection moulded special parts in agricultural machinery

First prototype – now in high-volume production for 20 years

FELLA has been designing implements for tractors for more than 90 years.  All swathers made by this supplier work exclusively using rotary technology, i.e. exploit the benefit of high area performance.  
 
"If these get damaged, the rotary rake stops working. And this must not happen at any time during the harvest. Back at the test stage, we recognised that we needed a reliable anti-rotation feature. The system has been running smoothly since the launch of series production. The anti-rotation feature ensures a completely firm fit of the bushing in its housing. The friction pairing is a perfect match, so we expect to keep deploying these components for a long time,"
says Dipl. Ing. (FH) Jürgen Riedel, design engineer

What is rapid prototyping ...

... and how can it help my company?

Definition of rapid prototyping: In mechanical engineering, "rapid prototyping" is used to refer to quick manufacture of sample components that starts with a digital 3D model. In common parlance, "rapid prototyping" is one of the additive manufacture categories, but in product development in particular, the term is understood specifically as a method for quick design tests under real-world conditions.  
 
Advantages of rapid prototyping:

Speed – quicker feedback, quicker development, quicker market entry

Those who optimise their product development processes win the competition for innovative solutions. Rapid prototyping and its generative processes allow new concepts to be quickly and iteratively realised and tested and easily adapted. Designers and stakeholders can test fully functional prototypes quicker – directly in the application – and provide feedback, eliminating the need for intermediate steps and ensuring that the finished product is ready to go sooner that it would be with conventional prototyping methods.  
 

Economy – less effort, fewer errors, lower costs

Eliminating plant, special tools, and manual effort reduces costs. Rapid prototyping is based on digital models that need not be stored and whose adjustment does not involve additional costs. 3D models from prototypes can be manufactured quickly at low cost as single pieces or small series by specialised service providers who have both the necessary expertise and the various systems required to deliver the best possible result. But prototype construction with the company's own systems can be profitable if they are used often, since the manufacturing time and the costs associated with external services are eliminated.  Tests with functional prototypes as early as the development phase greatly reduce the risk of errors during final product manufacture, since design, material, and fit have already been extensively tested by that time.  
 

Flexibility – more design latitude, more optimisation, more innovation

Additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping methods allow implementation of ideas and designs that used to be either completely unthinkable or very difficult to put into practice. This allows innovative solutions to be quickly realised, tested, optimised, and refined until they function as intended. It also opens up many options for material selection, since prototypes can, without much effort, be manufactured from the necessary material or various materials and compared directly with each other in application. It is thus possible to manufacture multiple prototypes of various materials in order to directly map multiple functionalities.  
 

Sustainability – faster processes, less waste, more recycling

Generative manufacturing methods create far less waste than subtractive ones and require less material. While some methods require the creation of supporting structures that must be removed after printing, unused powder for such methods as selective laser sintering can be reused for other prototypes. The time and material saved in rapid prototyping can be used for other projects.

Rapid prototyping  


--> Rapid prototyping processes

  • Laser sintering (SLS)
  • Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)
  • Rapid Tooling: injection-moulded parts from 3D printed moulds
  • Subtractive methods: bar stock
  • Other commonly used methods that igus® does not (yet) use
  • Which method is best suited to my project?

--> Types of prototypes
  • Design prototype
  • Geometric prototype
  • Functional prototype
  • Technical prototype
  • Industrial prototyping: small series for such items as pre-series vehicles

Rapid prototyping methods

The method used to manufacture prototypes depends primarily on the application requirements. The mechanical properties of a sample are determined not only by the material, but also by the printing method and its specific implementation. The time and the number of the prototypes to be manufactured also affect the selection of printing method.   

Selective laser sintering

This method is well suited to manufacturing customised individual parts and series of up to 10,000 units. In this method, a laser melts thermoplastic powder layer by layer to create the specified model. Prototypes created with this method have an especially great load capacity. It is the most frequently used additive manufacturing method at igus®, since it has superior strength, precision, and component price. Various finishing options such as colouring or polishing are also offered.

FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) 

Based on special plastic filaments, this method creates especially robust components in small quantities. An important advantage of the FDM method is the wide selection of materials for special requirements such as high temperatures or food contact and the comparatively simple combinability of various materials to produce a prototype. This method does not allow complex geometries to be mapped as flexibly as laser sintering does.

Rapid Tooling (print2mold): injection-moulded parts from additively manufactured injection moulding tools

For industrial prototyping, high-volume production of functional prototypes, and special material requirements, additive manufacture of injection moulding tools is frequently a good idea. A greater selection of materials is available, since not every plastic is available for 3D printing. This technology allows the manufacture of technical prototypes that are largely identical with the final product, but the peculiarities of injection moulding limit design freedom more than 3D printed prototypes would. Depending on requirements and the necessary number of units, injection moulds are manufactured of metal or with the Stereolithography (SLA) method.  

Subtractive methods: bar stock

Prototypes manufactured from bar stock also allow both material and mechanical properties to be mapped as early as the test phase and tested in their full functionality. For this method, material is removed mechanically by such methods as milling to manufacture the necessary workpiece from the raw material. The advantage of this technology is that it removes certain limitations that are present in 3D printing, such as minimum wall thickness. The material selection for prototyping with bar stock is greater than for additive manufacturing. This method's cost advantage is in the production of large quantities or especially simple parts.  

Other commonly used prototyping methods

While igus® uses the methods listed above to manufacture plastic prototypes, there are various other methods in the area of prototype production for various materials, including vacuum casting, contour crafting, laser powder forming, space puzzle moulding, and layer laminate manufacturing.  

Types of prototypes

  • Design prototype: This type of prototype is constructed to test whether the realised object meets the optical requirements and fits the overall concept. These models have no functionality and can be manufactured of standard plastics.
  • Geometrical prototype: Has the exact dimensions of the application and can be installed to see whether other modifications are necessary for fit. This also allows requirements of the necessary material to be checked and firmed up.  
  • Functional prototype: Maps the central functionalities of the planned component and can be tested directly in the application. For these, it is recommended that a small series of sample parts be manufactured so that they can be tested under various conditions
  • Technical prototype: If the final geometry and material have been decided on, the finished application is tested with the technical prototype in use. The model already completely matches the final product with respect to material, mechanical behaviour, and geometry.   
  • Industrial prototyping: Before a product goes into mass production, small series are frequently manufactured, especially in the automotive industry (for pre-series vehicles, for instance) so that customers can try out the new model. At this stage of product development, modifications to the material are often necessary.

Consulting

I would be happy to answer your questions personally

Shipping and consultation

In person:

Monday to Friday from 7 am - 8 pm.
Saturdays from 8 am- 12 pm.

Online:

24h