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81. How to Get An SLA Rapid Prototype

Buying an SLA rapid prototype can be a quick and relatively inexpensive way to evaluate a part, product, or invention. The process for getting an SLA isn't complicated if you follow these steps.

Step 1
The first thing you'll need in order to get an SLA rapid prototype is a 3D model or part file of the component or assembly you wish to prototype. This database file can be generated in any number of 3D modeling suites. Most rapid prototype houses will accept a variety of file formats, with the most commonly accepted format being the .stp file type. Having a drawing of the part or assembly can be helpful but is not usually necessary.

Step 2
The next step in the prototyping process is deciding what the model will be used for. Is it purely a "look and feel", aesthetics only model? In that case, you may be interested in finishing options a rapid prototyping company has to offer. These may include sanding, painting, and other detailing steps (all of which cost extra of course). You can also do these steps yourself and save money.

If the part or assembly is going to be used to test function, then it is much more important to get a high resolution SLA prototype. This will likely increase the cost. Additionally, SLA material selection is more important when the prototype is for testing/evaluation purposes. These days there are a wide variety of SLA materials to choose from, which mimic all types of material properties from ABS to polyethylene.

Step 3
Next you'll need to quote out the work at various rapid prototyping companies. There are many companies spread throughout the country and it shouldn't be too difficult to find one near you. However, you should not exclude more distant vendors in your search. Although some companies may be further away, lower prototyping costs may make up for increased shipping prices.

In order to obtain a quote, first contact the vendor and inform them of your needs. If necessary, set up a non-disclosure agreement with them. Next, you'll need to send the 3D model of the part/assembly you wish to rapid prototype. Be sure to ask what format they would like. It is also important to specify what you are going to be using the model for: look/feel vs. functionality. This will help the vendor in selecting the proper material and resolution. Also be sure to specify the quantity you are looking for.

Ask them to include lead time and shipping in the quote.

Step 4
Finally, compare the quotes from the various prototyping houses. In addition to cost, be sure to factor in lead time, quality, and finishing options into the quote. If you have done a good job of specifying your needs, all of the quotes should be for identical or very similar SLA prototypes.

Here are some samples we have done before, please kindly take a look:

Product design

Product design
Rapid prototyping

rapid prototyping

Plastic molds
Custom molds

Electronic product
design samples

rapid prototype

Plastic molds
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                                                    Marsha Dunmyre
                                                          CA, U.S.A
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