Ever since the commercialization of rapid prototyping in 1983 by Chuck Hull, 3D printing has become increasingly popular in product development.

The invention of additive prototyping is in engineering a key pivotal moment for the field. It has accelerated, made it accessible to the public, and reduced the cost dramatically for product design. Therefore I think it's an important part of history.

I am interested in enclosure design, housing for the electronics etc. I am thinking of anything that is typically eventually injection moulded, and how that was made in the prototyping stage.

What was the standard before the time of additive prototyping, was it just metal/woodwork (or the use of a CNC machine), or am I forgetting something?

  • 4
    What kind exactly of prototypes are you talking about? There are lots of products that cannot just be 3D printed. E. g. anything containing electronics or electric lights or electric motors.
    – Jan
    Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 11:54
  • 2
    I strongly urge that the comment "I am mainly referring to enclosure design, housing for the electronics etc, I am thinking of anything that is typically injection molded" be merged into the question. This might make it somewhat answerable.
    – Mark Olson
    Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 13:01
  • 4
    First result from a web search indicates that CNC machines and injection molding are both still used for plastic prototyping: rapiddirect.com/blog/plastic-prototype-manufacturing Model shops still use all kinds of methods based on stage and purpose: delve.com/insights/models-and-prototypes-101
    – Brian Z
    Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 13:28
  • 2
    @Olaf I find the assertion in the question that "Ever since... 1983... 3D printing has been the standard in product development." very dubious. In addition to MCW's suggestion I would encourage you to edit your question with the source you're getting that from.
    – Brian Z
    Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 18:26
  • 3
    @shoover If that is true, then I would say the question is off-topic. Neither of those sources are historical and are entirely present-focused.
    – Brian Z
    Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 19:54


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