What are rapid prototyping tools?

rapid_prototyping

Since the invention of the wheel, mankind has been on the look for new and more creative and effective tools to help achieve better and more efficient results in the execution of different tasks. Long gone are the times in which man would just do things mechanically without any improvement whatsoever in technique. Humanity is always undergoing evolution, and so are his tools.

Computer Aided Design is one of such tools which came to be as a response to the need of improving the way design was carried out in modern times to fulfill many requirements in many fields (such as architecture, engineering, construction, etc). Rapid Prototyping Tools are also part of these life improving tools humanity has created. But, what exactly are Rapid Prototyping Tools and how did they come into existence?

In order to be able to answer those questions, we would have to take a trip to 1860 when Photo Sculpture was created by French artist François Willème. Willème set many cameras around an object to be able to get a 3D perspective of it which he then used to sculpt a similar object. Unknowingly, Willème had given birth to what would be known as the first attempt of men at 3D printing. It may have been a rough start, but it has always been said that every new beginning is difficult.

After years and years of evolving, 3D printing as we know it nowadays finally was near completion. But there was something of huge importance missing in the equation:

There was a need for software to control the machinery in charge of 3D modeling and printing, and that is when Rapid Prototyping Tools came into existence to change the way design was done forever.

Rapid Prototyping Tools for 3D modeling are a series of different software tools designed to assist us in the design of scale models, parts of or any type of prototype produced using CAD and 3D printing. Some common and very popular Rapid Prototyping

Tools are Windows 3D builder, Anim8or, AutoCAD, Sketchup, RealSoft 3D etc. There are a plethora of Rapid Prototyping Tools for 3D modeling available nowadays. All of them with their very own unique distinguishing features, different costs (there are many of them which are totally free), varied plug-ins and a lot of awesome functions, but in the end, all of them have the same goal of improving the way we design for 3D modeling.

Windows 3D builder, for instance, was created to allow Windows 8 users to model, view, edit and print 3D designs easily. It is free software which comes with Windows 10. Anim8or is Open GL freeware with very top-notch features and very low memory consumption (which comes as a great advantage in the long run). AutoCAD is one of the oldest CAD tools in existence and it is the favorite of most professionals in many fields including engineering and architecture; it is one of the best tools money can pay ever since its creation. Sketchup is a freemium tool which is free for non-commercial use but charges for additional features which come with the Pro version.

Rapid Prototyping Tools come in all shapes in sizes. It is up to you to decide on which one to use. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.

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