Rapid Prototyping, also known as additive manufacturing or 3D printing, is a manufacturing process by adding layer to layer material that is used to obtain rapid prototypes. This computer controlled technology allows the manufacture of plastic, metal or ceramic pieces, in some cases with mechanical properties very similar to technical plastics.
The construction of a model with traditional methods can involve from a few hours to several days or weeks of work, depending on the method used and the size and complexity of the model. Conversely, rapid prototyping systems can produce models in a few hours, although this can vary widely depending on the type of machine used and the size and number of models that are produced simultaneously.
Finally, the standard data interface between CAD programs and machines is the STL file format. An STL file approximates the shape of a piece or set with triangular facets. The smaller the facets the greater the quality of the surface. Other valid work files are IGS or STEP.
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