ABS-The Most Commonly Used Material in Rapid Prototyping

ABS is the most commonly used material in rapid prototyping, which occupies around 80% of the world’s rapid prototyping manufacturing. So, what is ABS and why it is so widely used? What is advantages of ABS prototypes?

What is ABS and Why it is so widely used?

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene copolymers, referred to as ABS, is a thermoplastic polymer that is high strength, high toughness, easy processing and molding. And just because of those advantages of, it is often used to manufacture the plastic casing. ABS prototypes are usually slightly yellow and black, have a certain toughness, the density is about 1.04 ~ 1.06g / cm3.

ABS is relatively strong in corrosion resistance for acid, alkali and salt, but also, to a certain extent, tolerance to dissolution by organic solvents. ABS resin can perform normally under the environment of -25 ℃ ~ 60 ℃, and easy molding. The ABS prototypes has smooth surfaces and are easy to dye and electroplate. So it can be used for household appliances, toy prototypes and other daily necessities. The common Lego building blocks are ABS products.

In particular, 90% of the materials used in CNC machining is ABS, which can be free to open for processing and strength will not be greatly affected after bonding. This is believed to be one of the big reasons why ABS is so widely used in rapid prototyping.

Advantages of ABS Prototypes

ABS prototypes are easy to glue, polish and convenient in post-processing and painting, laser carving and electroplating are allowed. The detailed advantages of ABS prototypes are as follows:

1. Good impact resistance: ductile deformation only even after a sudden attack.
2. High working pressure: 1.0Mpa in room temperature 20 ℃
3. Good chemical stability, non-toxic, tasteless. Full in line with the health and safety requirements in pharmaceutical, food and other industries.
4. Can be used in a wide range of temperature from -20 ℃ to 70 ℃.
5. Light weight and cost saving. ABS is only 1/7 of steel and thus reduces the weight and labor intensity as well as the consumption of raw materials and saves cost.
6. Long service life: ABS prototypes can be used over 50 years inside and the service life can be longer if buried in the ground or water without significant corrosion.

Factors that cause the deformation of the vacuum casting prototypes

Vacuum casting is to use SLA laser rapid prototyping or CNC machining as the prototype, and then use silica gel to do the mold, and use PU material for casting in vacuum, and thus clone a copy as the same as the original prototype. Due to the fast speed and low cost, vacuum casting greatly reduces the product development costs, cycle and risk. And vacuum casting works almost the same way as steel mold but they are in different use and technology.

Silicone molding materials are: domestic and imported silicone, transparent silicone and special silicone.

Factors that cause the deformation of the vacuum casting prototypes

However, in the process of vacuum casting, prototype become deformed due to various reasons, which affects the accuracy of the prototype. Then what factors will lead to deformation of the vacuum casting prototype?

1. Mold silica gel is put into use before it is fully cured. Although the mold can generally be removed within a few hours after casting, but it takes at least a week for the it to be fully cured. If time permits, experienced master usually take out the prototype a month later.

2. The quality of the mold silica used is too poor, or the shrinkage is too high or there is too much filler (to reduce the cost of mold plastic). Shrinkage rate of high-grade silicone molds are within 0.1% and about 3% for the ordinary. Poor ones may go up to 10% or more.

3. Vacuum casting prototype need for high temperature in the injection, and due to the impact of thermal expansion and contraction, silicone liquid may be perfect at that time but may be much smaller than the actual size once it is cooled down and shrinkages.

What’s the difference between CNC Machining and 3D Printing

In the process of product design, after we complete the design drawings, what we want to know most is how the design looks like, whether the appearance and the design ideas are consistent, structural design is reasonable or not, and so on. Generally speaking, prototypes are functional samples made according to the drawings to check the appearance or structural rationality. CNC Machining and 3D Printing are two main ways to do rapid prototyping. We will discuss the difference between 3D printing and CNC machining below.

Features of 3D Printing and CNC Machining

CNC machining is efficient, accurate and economical while 3D printing is able to make prototypes that traditional machining, including CNC machining, is difficult to make or simply can not achieve. 3D Printing is of high degree of freedom.

3D printing technology, such as (SLA, SLS, etc.), needs structural support in the implementation process, if not prototypes can not be manufactured, which is believed to be a big bottleneck for the further development of 3D printing.

Traditional CNC processing industry has been in developing for a long period, and there is already a mature standard in principal axis, cutting tool interface, or control system, however, there is currently no such standards, and it takes really long for the standard to be established.

The result of the difference between the two is that 3D printing allows you to manufacturing a powerful and unconstrained style prototype, while CNC machining has more advantages in large prototypes making and the economy is better.

Major Difference between CNC Machining and 3D Printing

In addition to the above difference between 3D printing and CNC machining, there is another obvious difference: Additive Manufacturing and Subtractive Manufacturing.

3D Printing is additive manufacturing which is to add materials to molds, similar to squeezing toothpaste and finally the prototype is accumulated.

CNC machining is subtractive manufacturing which is to do “subtraction” and cut and remove materials from the whole piece of raw materials continuously until the final model is produced.

Car Mock-ups are Important Basis for the Automobile Industry

In the car production, more than 90% of the parts need to rely on mold forming. For example, the most basic front and rear headlights, bumpers, car trim, etc., are under the help and auxiliary of rapid prototyping.

China’s automobile rapid prototype industry closely follows the development of automobiles, and whether in technology or equipment, should focus on product structure adjustment, and gradually enhance the level of rapid moulding, which is believed to be the prerequisite to occupy the high-end market with complex prototypes with complex structure, high precision and advanced technology.

The basic idea of the development of automobile rapid prototyping model industry and technology highlights the development lifeline and mileage of a business.

Development as the theme and market, reform and technological innovation as the driving force, KAIAO, one of the top rapid prototyping company in automobile moulding industry in China, gradually grows into a strong mold enterprise with international competitiveness. Under the national industry policy, KAIAO vigorously promotes the industry organizational structure optimization and upgrades of industrial structure, accelerate the development of the market much-needed key products.

Discussion on Plastic Toy Prototypes

Plastic Toy Prototype is a kind of prototype model that is difficult to do in the rapid prototyping industry as a lot of customers requires the plastic toy prototype to be operable between the various parts, which is believed to be a high demand and challenge for plastic toy prototype masters. Sometimes masters don’t have to assemble prototypes in accordance with customers’ design ideas if they have better suggestions. Masters in KAIAO, one of the top toy prototype manufacturers are always able to give suggestions because they are all full experienced with practical ability.


There are many toy prototype manufacturers making plastic toy prototypes as well as doll prototypes and a majority of them are in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China. Toys prototypes requires good masters with better skills and so there a few that are able to do professional plastic toy prototypes. In addition to the rapid prototyping masters’ ability and experience, there is one more reason why few toy prototype companies make good toy prototypes, that is PA66, a high strength material, as the toy prototypes are required to achieve a high resistance to extrusion performance.

However, PA66 cannot be separated and must overall process, which gives great difficulties to CNC machining and makes some toy prototype manufacturers shrink back in plastic toy prototyping. With strong technical experience, KAIAO is your top choice to make good plastic toy prototypes and the toy prototype cost is relatively low. Feel free to contact KAIAO for a free quote.

Rapid Prototypes for Automobile Exterior Parts

KAIAO Rapid Manufacturing Co.,Limited is the earliest sino-foreign joint venture that applies and promotes RPM technology in China, and is identified as a national rapid prototyping research and application service center and national CAD application engineering demonstration enterprise by State Ministry of Science and Technology in China. Also, KAIAO is CAD technical advisory services center in Shenzhen City and is one of the top automobile rapid prototyping manufacturers and has a wealth of practical experience in prototyping automobile exterior parts.

Rapid Prototypes for Automobile Exterior Parts Preproduction Processing

Preproduction of exterior trimming parts includes front and rear headlights, bumper prototypes etc. The trial process of rapid prototypes for automobile lamps are as follows:

1. Prototype: CNC machining, lamp holder and reflector cup decorative material are ABS or PC sheet, lamp cover material is the P mm A plate.
2. Mold: silicone rubber mold.
3. Molding: vacuum injection molding, lamp holder and reflective cup decoration material are PU resin Hei-cast8150 ; shade material is PU resin AXSON-PX521HT a transparent heat-resistant high-strength material.
4. Post-treatment: paint/vacuum coating.
5. Detection: tooling fixture splicing, 3 coordinate detection.
6. Accuracy control:
Prototype: Main positioning hole ± 0.3 mm, general mounting hole ± 0.5 mm, other size ± 0.8 mm.
Molding Parts: Main positioning hole ± 0.5 mm, 1 year mounting hole ± 0.8 mm, other size ± 1.2 mm.

Practice has proved that RP & M can optimize product design, shorten product development cycle, reduce development costs, thereby enhances the competitiveness of enterprises.

RP & M technology, as an important means, has been widely used in car parts rapid prototyping. RP trial samples can be used for visualization, design evaluation, interference testing, and even some functional tests for CAD digital models. In addition, the prototype can offer an intuitive understanding of the product’s appearance and performance, which has not yet put into mass production, and results in a timely evaluation, so that the factory can timely improve the products based on user needs and market research so as to create favorable conditions and avoid blind production losses.

How is the complex prototype processed?

Mock-up is widely needed to detect if the product design is reasonable when developing new products in the industry, which speeds up the advent of new products. In the past, people did hand-hand prototype and it is relatively simple. With the rapid development of all aspects of the society, mock-ups become more and more complex in structure and shape and hand-made processing is no longer competent. So, How is the complex prototype processed?

How is the complex prototype processed?

There are two main ways to process complex prototypes: CNC machining and 3D printing. With CNC technology, CNC machining is able to processes a lot of complex prototypes, and the accuracy is relatively high. However, if the prototype is too complicated, you need to split pieces for  processing. For the complex plastic prototypes, ABS, PC and acrylic are materials that are generally used for CNC rapid prototyping due to their good viscosity and demolition pieces can easily spliced back with little impact on the intensity. And for the metal prototypes, they are generally welded back after splitting.

3D printing can process a variety of prototypes with complex surfaces and shaped structure, one step molding. What the traditional machining can not be processed can be achieved by 3D printing, even without considering the use sof fixtures. In short, in most people’s view, the traditional prototyping model manufacturing, can only be infinitely close to the product prototype, to verify the product, but there will always be errors, and the use of 3D printing can be directly output products in kind. But there are deficiencies in 3D printing which costs a lot processing large pieces of prototype models, so a lot of complex large prototypes are using CNC machining.

Make the complex prototype for you

As one of the top rapid prototyping companies in China, KAIAO has been in the industry for over a decade and experienced in CNC machining and 3D printing. If you are interested in CNC machining and 3D printing as your next project while the prototype is a bit complex, feel free to contact KAIAO for help. KAIAO is always your top choice.

Discussion on Epoxy Mold by Rapid Prototyping

In epoxy moulding, there are a variety of processing methods developed according to the cost, materials, precision requirements, batch etc. Experts say the current rapid tooling methods are roughly indirect molding and direct molding. The method based on rapid prototyping is mainly indirect molding and the mold produced are bridge tooling and soft mold and hard mold.

Bridge tooling usually refers to the direct injection molding of epoxy resin mold. When compared with traditional injection molding, epoxy moulding costs only a fraction of the traditional method and the production cycle is also greatly reduced. The die life, up to 1000 ~ 5000 pieces, is shorter than steel hard mould, but it is longer than the silicone molds, which makes it possible to meet the needs of small and medium volume production.

A lot of enterprises in Shenzhen, the center of moulding in China, has made a lot of progress in the rapid tooling. KAIAO, as one of the star enterprises in rapid prototyping, has accumulated a wealth of experience and establishes a long-term relationship Foxconn, Chana Auto, Motorola etc. and are winning more customers

Generally, rapid prototyping uses solid model (master mould) to copy (such as metal spraying, electroplating, composite casting, casting, etc.) to quickly create the main mold parts (convex, die or mold cavity, core), and its manufacturing cycle is about 1/5 to 1/10 of CNC machining, while the cost is only 1/3 ~ 1/5.

Rapid Tooling is the bottlenecks and key that restrict the development of China’s automobile, home appliances, light industry and other industries. With the continuous development and improvement in hardware and software equipment of rapid prototyping, the strength and accuracy of parts from rapid prototyping continues to improve. Rapid Prototyping has been gradually deep into the field of rapid tooling. Simple economic fast molds based on rapid prototyping specially epoxy mould has become a hot topic.

Epoxy mold is more and more widely used and further promotes the rapid development of rapid tooling, which also helps new research and development in cars and home appliances on the market.

The Era of Personalized 3D Printing for Medical Treatment Is Near

With the booming of 3D printing all over the world, 3D printing organ has become a real tool available. 3D print chest, nutcracker syndrome, skull and so on are the real application in medicine. The practical prospects of 3D printing in the medical model, prosthetics, dental surgical template, skull, cervical vertebral body and artificial joints and other aspects are great with great advantages in practicability and fungibility.

At present, the application of 3D printing technology has indeed been clinically recognized. 3D printing is able to offer the difficult and unpredictable disease with a treatment or further improve the treatment, so as to improve the treatment effect.

Therefore, the development of personalized and customized medical care is necessary. Through these organ models for preoperative simulation exercises, to develop a personalized surgical program, is able to avoid some unexpected situations. At the same time, treatment can be “personalized and customized”, which avoids the unnecessary surgical openings and greatly improve the recovery quality for patients and speed up the healing time.

In order to better apply 3D printing technology to the medicine and medical fields, such as the introduction of 3D printing pills, 3D print implants, 3D printing organs and organizations. KAIAO is striving to make custom 3D printing technology internationally standardized, gradually, and is continuing to develop relevant guidelines for better use of 3D printing technology for medical enterprises and individuals to provide better customized services.

Electroplating in Rapid Prototyping Model Making

Electroplating in Rapid Prototyping Model Making

Electroplating is a process, according to electrolytic principle, that coats a thin layer of other metals or allows over some metal surface, which forms a thin coherent metal coating attached to the surface to prevent meal oxidation (such as corrosion), improve wear resistance, conductivity, opacity, corrosion resistance (copper sulfate, etc.) and enhance the role of aesthetics.

Electroplating in Rapid Prototyping Model Making

While we are doing the rapid prototyping, we are required to add plating effect to the prototypes. However, not all the materials can be plated. Generally, materials that can be plated are ABS, and of course, parts from vacuum casting can be plated as well. Prototype models made by SLA is not suitable for plating, even you do it, the effect is poor.

ABS pieces from CNC machining will get better results if they are electroplated.

Vacuum plating is a method of forming a metal film on the prototype surface by heating, melting, and cooling under high vacuum. TE-PVD is suitable for Al, gold and the like.

Vacuum plating parts must be pieces from overall processing. Otherwise the surface plating will be very ugly if there are bonds.

Because the plating is generally used as the surface sputtering, mainly the inner surface (anti-EMI, but also for small pieces to do the surface treatment, like some keys) relative to the water plating thick film thickness is about 0.01-0.02MM or so, vacuum sputtering of the film thickness 0.005MM.

Pretreatment of Electroplating

Pretreatment, the treatment before plating, includes the following work that needs to be well done:

1. Wash: remove the oil, fat, abrasive, and sludge on the metal surface. Spray, solvent wash, immersion washed or electrolytic wash are common ways to do so.
2. Cleaning: use cold or hot water to wash the residual detergent or dirt.
3. Acid leaching: remove rust or other oxide film. What should be paid attention to is to prevent the substrate being corrosive or produce hydrogen embrittlement. Inhibitors can be added to avoid excessive acid leaching. A full clean is required after the acid leaching.
4. Activation: promote the adhesion of the coating with a variety of acid solution to activate the metal surface.
5. Drift: immediately remove acid film and then plating