Get the Most out of
Getting prototypes made in a timely and accurate manner is critical to anyone utilizing Rapid Prototyping. And delivering on that is why PADT's rapid prototyping service has continued to grow and prosper over the years. To help that along even further, PADT has prepared this page and the resources it links to as our way of helping the RP user community to get more out of their prototyping efforts.
Please take a look at the information below to learn more about Rapid Prototyping in general and with PADT. If you cannot find what you are looking for, please contact us at 480.813.4884 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be more than willing to help you out.
Doing prototyping with PADT is a bit different then with most service providers. You don't throw your models over the wall, get a quote in an email, then get your part a few days later. Our manufacturing engineers will work with you to understand what you plan on using the prototype for and determine what the best technology and materials are given your usage and budget guidelines.
Here is how the process works:
- Prepare your CAD model so that it represents the prototype you want.
- Save it as a file we can work with:
- The best is for you to export your CAD model as an STL file
- Or, if you have a SolidWorks, Pro/E, NX, or SolidEdge file, save that
- If you have a different CAD system, you can save as IGES, STEP, or Parasolid, or SAT.
- Repeat for each of the parts you want.
- Compress the file(s).
- Even though internet speeds are faster these days, it saves time if you make a ZIP file that contains all the files you need to send us.
- It is helpful if you give the file a useful name. We like: company_name-part-yyyy_mm_dd.zip. Something like boxesRus-upper_enclosure-2012_02_29.zip
- Send us the zip file in any of these three ways:
- Email it to email@example.com with your contact information.
- Put it into a dropbox or secure file sharing location and send us a link via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Upload it to www.padtinc.com/upload
- If you have a login and password, use that
- If not, then contact us and we will email you the login and password
- Place the zip file in the submissions folder
- Email email@example.com and let us know that you uploaded a file, what the file is called, and your contact information.
- To speed up the process you can help us out by providing some additional information:
- What you will be using the parts for
- Any process or material preferences
- Any post processing that you need such as painting, clear coat, or texturizing
- How you want to get your finished parts: shipped, currier, or pickup.
- Once we receive your file and your contact information, we will put it into our quote queue. Our engineers will look at the file and contact you with any questions they may have. They will then generate a quotation and email it to you. The quote will include pricing, processes that we will use, and an estimated delivery time.
- If you like what you see you need to authorize us to make your part.
- If you have an established account with PADT, you need to simply send us a Purchase Order
- If you do not have an account give us a call and we will take your credit card information over the phone
- We will then rapidly prototype your part or parts.
- The parts are then delivered to you based upon the method you specify.
Understanding the Technologies
As Rapid Prototyping gets better and better, it is more and more difficult to get your head around all the technical aspects of the technology. There are always new technologies, new materials, and new applications to study and understand. PADT has prepared some material to explain the basics as well as some more detailed information.
[Not all the material is available, we are adding it over time]
- 12 Things Every Engineer Should Know About Rapid Prototyping
- PADT's Rapid Prototyping FAQ
- Comparison of Rapid Prototyping Technologies
- Overview of Material Options for Rapid Prototyping with PADT
- Videos Showing Each Rapid Prototyping Technology
- A Guide to Creating Good STL Files
- Design Guidelines for Parts Manufactured with Rapid Prototyping
- Software Tools for Rapid Prototyping
- Tips and Hints for Post Processing (Cleaning, Sanding, Painting, Coating) Rapid Prototyping Parts
- Tips for Building Prototypes as Assemblies
There are a lot of great resources on the web as well. Some that we suggest are:
- Wholers and Associates: This is the best overall look at Rapid Prototyping on the web
- OpenRP.com: This is a nice collection of free tools for rapid prototyping
- RP-ML is the RP mailing list. It has been around since 1995. If someone asked a question about RP, it is probably on this list.