24 May Rapid Prototyping Capabilities
Rapid Prototyping Capabilities
The practice of Rapid Prototyping requires different toolsets for a mechanical engineer than for a software engineer or industrial designer. But no matter what type of product you’re building, the technique can be vital in the development process by enabling early on design feedback and use-case analysis.
As a truly full-service product design firm, Realtime provides multi-disciplinary Rapid Prototyping (RP) capabilities for a broad range of product development needs, from visual proof of principle prototypes, to UI/UX and human-machine interface concepts, to embedded software systems.
Our well-rounded RP capabilities include 3D CAD and 3D printing, UI/UX prototyping toolsets, multiple software and firmware libraries, and a broad range of embedded system development environments that enable Realtime to quickly produce a prototype for your product demo.
3D Mechanical Rapid Prototyping (MRP) Realtime utilizes our in-house 3D Stereolithography (SLA) printing capabilities to provide fast realization of mechanical parts. 3D printed parts can be used to provide immediate feedback from potential customers on size, touch, feel and usability, which can greatly reduce timeline for critical Human Factors evaluations. They can also provide a compelling and tangible proof-of-concept for the end client, who will be impressed by your realistic
product design. This creates a better understanding and excitement for prospects who will understand the look and feel of the design, rather than simply assuming through 2D images or drawings.
Utilizing printed parts saves money in many ways, such as providing fast evaluation and iteration of parts before an injection mold is built or modified. Printed parts can be used in place of many machined parts providing a cost and schedule benefits. Many parts can be printed the same day, reducing time and enabling real-time evaluation. Realtime’s 3D printer allows direct incorporation of the Mechanical Engineering 3D Solidworks model files. Our printer provides a wide variety of material options utilizing standard and engineering resins formulated to reduce cost and iterate quickly. Available resigns include: Grey Pro, Rigid, Durable, Tough, Flexible, and High Temp. Resins are also available for Class I and Class IIa biocompatible part designs.
Realtime’s in-house 3D printer can produce parts with dimensions of 5.7 x 5.7 x 6.9 in. with a layer thickness (axis resolution) of 25, 50, 100 microns allowing the implementation of detailed designs. 3D printing also enables the development of parts that cannot be physically machined but can be printed. If additional parts sizes are needed, Realtime has established partnerships with vendors to provide all aspects of 3D printing capabilities.
User Interface/User Experience (UI/UX) Rapid Prototyping
Whether your product will be controlled through a touch panel, mobile app, or a web interface, a design based on intuitive user interaction and ergonomics can make or break success. Realtime draws on our extensive library of proven UI/UX solutions and toolsets for rapidly creating and improving interfaces based on solid practices of Human Factors.
Realtime’s developers use those tools to create mock-ups, rapidly assemble wireframes, simulate functionality, and quickly integrate icons, buttons, and switches from a store of libraries. These tools enable our designers to combine the concept sketch phase with the prototyping phase, which provides much greater ability to evaluate user experience during product formative studies.
Embedded System Rapid Control Prototyping (ES RCP)
One of Realtime’s core capabilities is developing embedded real-time systems that use digital processor-based electronics to control a device, process sensor information, manage wireless communications, connect to the internet, etc. When designing a device with embedded software, its often useful to Rapid Control Prototyping (RCP). RCP is the process of calibrating control algorithms on prototype hardware to get a device under test up and running before a production-intent electronic control unit (ECU) is available. RCP platforms typically provide a method to import mathematical models and run them on a controller with a real-time OS connected to real-world I/O.
This is done through high-level graphical system design software and commercial off-the-shelf rapid prototyping hardware that improve every stage of development, from the earliest stages of design and simulation, to prototyping the system with real-world I/O signals and hardware, to deploying the embedded software on a chosen processor target. Our RCP capabilities include algorithm prototyping tools such as MATLAB and Labview, a broad library of Realtime developed software and firmware drivers and platforms, and proficiency with most microprocessor and FPGA based system-on-chip (SOC) development environments.
Benefits of Multi-Disciplinary Rapid Prototyping
Rapid Prototyping has evolved from quick fabrication techniques to encompass multiple aspects of product realization, including UI/UX, embedded electronics, embedded software, and integrations across several of these functions. These techniques are often used independently by the related domain experts as they develop their part of the system. However, at Realtime, we often combine several RP techniques in a multi-disciplinary environment. For example, we can 3D print a mechanical interface panel that interacts with a set of algorithms that are hosted on a development board. This could provide early-on visibility to complex interactions between the user interface and the actual control functions or sensor readings.
Contact a Realtime expert to discuss your prototype needs. We are here to help.
The Realtime Group has deep product development experience. We have a shared passion for time-to-market and product compliance. Visit us at www.TheRealtimeGroup.com or call us at 972-985-9100 to see how we can help you with your product development and testing!
Dave Felio | President & CEO