For a prototype to be as useful as it can be, it doesn’t just need look the part—it needs to function as an end-use part would. Cosmetic prototypes, while useful for verifying fit and look, lack the strength to properly evaluate functionality of a design in application. Functional prototypes need to withstand the same rigors that the final part would, including loading and exposure to chemicals. Machining low volume prototypes out of materials that are both strong and chemically resistant takes time and money, stretching development cycles and unnecessarily straining R&D budgets.
Utilizing a 3D printer gives the you the ability to quickly iterate, print, test, and modify within a matter of days — replacing a process that typically requires weeks to months for every iteration. Functional prototypes come out of Markforged printers ready to work, and are strong and resistant to corrosive environments. Continuous fiber reinforcement gives these printed parts near aluminum strength—as a result, they can effectively mimic parts that will eventually be made out of both plastic and metal. Printing prototypes keeps costs down and reduces design cycle time so much that you can iterate more while still taking your products to market faster.