Using Rapid Prototyping for Agricultural Products
Rapid prototyping is a set of quick processes that include creating a 3D physical model with the aid of digital design, also known as computer-aided design (CAD). The process involves creating a rapid prototype 3D model, which is efficiently constructed using subtractive or additive layer manufacturing. Meanwhile, it may allow engineers and experts to find the optimum solution in design, engineering, and sales by testing and applying several iterations.
The procedure proves efficient in terms of cost, time, and effectiveness. Prototypes can be tested and modified along the way to further improve the design intent. It also makes prototyping techniques favourable for low-production jobs. On the other hand, rapid prototype techniques also prove economical for low-volume production due to wide range of material selection and equipment availability. In conclusion, we can say that rapid prototyping techniques can be used for both low-volume production cycles and prototyping purposes.
One industry that involves such applications is the agricultural sector. The room for innovation and implementation of customised designs is immense. Therefore, the performance of rapid prototype techniques has massive potential in terms of agricultural and irrigation products.
What are the Benefits of Using Rapid Prototype Techniques in Agriculture?
The fundamental motive in agriculture is to deliver adequate food, fibre, feed, and fuel for fulfilling the developing global demand. At the same time, rapid prototyping refers to present-day manufacturing technologies, which meet the unique requirements of the sector. These requirements include sustainability, practical innovation, empowered consumers, regulatory requirements, less time to market, and dealing with increasingly complex global supply chains.
What Methods Implement Rapid Prototyping
A few unique techniques to creating the rapid prototype are used by the market's leading companies, such as ArpTech. These rapid prototype techniques may include but are not limited to 3D printing, CNC machining, and rapid moulding. Before moving towards rapid prototyping applications in agriculture, let's briefly look at each technique and its usage in the field.
3D Printing is the first methodology one thinks of when speaking of techniques to creating a rapid prototype. It proves helpful in making attractive prototypes for initial concept developments and light testing of agricultural products. This technique is beneficial in agriculture because 3D-printed products are more stable in harsh environments, temperatures, water, and chemicals. 3D Printing can be classified into several subcategories based on the method implemented and materials used, such as FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling), SLA (Stereolithography), 3DP-PLA (Standard 3D Printing), and SLS (Selective Laser Sintering).
The main objective of this mechanism is precision and strength. The CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine gets its cutter path from numerical data from the CAD model, leading to exact designs. The design is fed to the machine that carries out the manufacturing of plastic or metal (ferrous or non-ferrous) parts through CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) software. Moreover, it is reasonable for smooth finished and functional agricultural pieces. Remember, this technology is beneficial in the agriculture sector as it is economical for low-volume production cycles.
Vacuum casting, also refers to RTV moulding, is an excellent choice where production-like parts are needed. Typically used for making 10 parts to few hundred functional prototypes out of a broad range of polyurethane resins with common physical properties. Also, an excellent choice for stretchable rubber like flexible prototypes. As the initial outlay on vacuum casting tooling is substantially low, compared to injection moulding, therefore it can be a win-win solution for low-demand agricultural and irrigation products.
The injection moulding process involves injecting molten material, often thermoplastics, into a mould. The moulds used are usually custom-made through rapid moulding (bridge tooling). It is suited to cater to the application moulds are designed for; in our case, these are agricultural and irrigation products. The connection between injection moulding and agricultural products results from the process's easier making of intricate parts and the availability of diverse moulding material types.
Applications of Rapid Prototype Techniques in Agriculture
Manufacture of Tools
Manufacturing of customised tools is very efficient thanks to rapid prototype methods, such as 3D printing. Conversely, if manufactured through standard techniques, these custom-designed tools would prove to be too expensive for any farmer to own.
Manufacture of Large Equipment
Large equipment items are most often in low-production demand due to minimal replacement needs. It makes them economically better to be made using rapid prototype techniques rather than standard techniques. Tractor parts, farming trucks, drone farming, agricultural robots, conveyor belt parts, in particular, are often made using CNC machining.
Urban Area Farming
Urban farming techniques like indoor farming call for more changes and innovations in equipment than before. The reason is that they have to be used inside buildings. Parts for autonomous farming processes, innovative agricultural technology, and infrastructures (mounting brackets and light fixtures) can all be accomplished using rapid prototyping.
Scaled-down architecture models and infrastructure like grain facilities allow for a better understanding of what a project may look like if brought into development. This thing plays a crucial role in the planning process. Besides, model scanning allows farmers and owners to get a proper idea of the terrain of the farmland, including issues like catchment spots and erosion.
Parts for Replacement
Specialised farm equipment is often hard to replace, as components are not readily available in the market or are expensive. It is where cost-efficient rapid prototype techniques come in handy very well. Custom design parts or spare parts can be manufactured at ease using rapid prototype techniques, minimising cost, time, and even equipment downtime.
Indoor Gardening or Vertical Gardens
Indoor gardening (growing herbs and vegetables) also calls for specialised equipment. Customised equipment, such as gardening structures, is often not readily available for use. That is why creating the rapid prototype has proven to be the perfect solution for these matters.
Vertical gardens have substantial demand for new generation of components: automated sprinkler systems, pipes, hoses, valves, timers, irrigation systems, monitoring cameras, solar fittings, planter boxes, flowering pots.
Occasionally, readymade products available off the shelf, are not suitable for the purpose, then rapid prototyping and quick manufacturing technologies come to the aid to fulfil the demand for purpose built parts.
The Final Word – ArpTech
Now that we are well aware of what rapid prototyping technology can accomplish in agriculture sector. Suppose that you consider getting state-of-the-art rapid prototype practices for your agricultural products to meet high-quality standards, materials, and surface finish. In that case, you've come to the right place. Along the same lines, ArpTech, offers cost-effective services regarding rapid prototyping and on-demand uniquely machined parts with low-volume production. So, check out our website for more details, or contact us if you have any further queries.