How to Make Plastic Prototypes?

Last Updated on October 12, 2023 by assistant

There is no doubt that prototyping is an integral part of almost every industry. Plastic is one of the most common materials to create prototypes and finished products. There are some common processing ways to make plastic prototypes: CNC machining, 3D printing, vacuum casting, and injection molding. Their appearances make plastic prototyping more economical and efficient. 

Figure1 Plastic Turned Parts

Common industries that require plastic prototyping are medical, transportation, defense, aerospace, electronics, food & beverage, consumer goods, etc. According to the various requirements of your product development, you can choose the most suitable production method among them to get your plastic parts. 

CNC machining: if you have high precision and surface finish requirements for plastic parts, CNC machining is your best choice. It uses CNC machines for the almost fully automated processing of plastics. The state-of-art machines can make the tolerance of plastic prototypes reach ±0.08mm. Compared to other processes, it also uses a shorter turnaround time.

Figure1 CNC plastic prototypes

3D printing: as an additive processing, 3D printing can create plastic prototypes with the most complicated design. The common plastics for 3D plastic printing are ABS, Nylon, PLA, PMMA, PC, etc. Meanwhile, there are a few kinds of 3D printing to make plastic parts we apply often: FDM/FFF, SLA, and SLS. 

Plastic 3D Printing

Vacuum casting: baed on the prototypes produced by CNC machining or 3D printing, vacuum casting can perfectly reproduce the plastic prototypes with high repeatability while its processing for low-volume production from 10 pcs to 250 pcs. 

Injection molding for plastic prototyping: injection molding is processing that we need to create metal molds firstly. Then, the raw plastic materials will be melted, put into the mold, and created the plastic prototypes. In most cases, we use injection molding to high-volume plastic parts. At the same time, it is also an ideal process to make plastic components with a fast lead time and good surface finish. 

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