Creating physical objects from digital models has been a reality since the computer-controlled machines of the 1960s began cutting away at materials. Today, almost 25 years after the first selective laser sintering work began in 1987, 3D printers are poised to become mainstream. Until now, high prices, limited materials and complex software have hindered rapid tech adoption. But that has changed.
Thanks to new technologies and materials, rapid tech has made a steady march toward affordability. That, together with computer-aided design software that is affordable and easy to use, means more engineers and hobbyists are using additive manufacturing (AM) to create prototypes and even finished plastic and metal parts.
To stay abreast of the opportunities presented by rapid prototyping and manufacturing, potential end users need to understand how others are already benefitting from the technology, how it can affect the design process and what new capabilities they can expect in the near future.
Rapid Ready is brought to you by the editors of Desktop Engineering (DE), the magazine that has been covering rapid technologies for more than 16 years. This site covers the different AM technologies, materials and types of equipment — from entry-level 3D printers used by hobbyists to AM systems used by leading global manufacturers. But we do not ignore other tools that can help create physical prototypes, parts and products from digital files, including subtractive manufacturing, 3D scanning and reverse engineering. We cover the hardware, software, materials and services that allow end users to incorporate rapid tech into their design-simulate-prototype-test-build processes.
Our mission is to educate end users on the benefits of rapid technologies, guide them through choosing the best processes and materials for their projects and support the growth of technologies that make digital designs physical.