The main theme of rapid prototyping is from Art to Part. Rapid prototyping was first introduced by 3D Systems in 1988 . It is a powerful and revolutionary technology with wide range of applications. Rapid prototyping is essential part of the process of system designing and it is believed to be quite beneficial as far as reduction of project cost and risk . Rapid prototyping and manufacturing technology can be used to increase competiveness in almost any industry. By realizing the potential of Rapid Prototyping for prototyping applications, a large number of processes have been developed allowing the use of various materials ranging from plastics to metals for the development of prototypes . Rapid prototyping can be used to check for form, fit, and function of prototypes especially in tooling. Rapid Prototyping parts are used for visual inspection, ergonomic evaluation, and masters for secondary manufacturing processes in various stages of new product development. The process has a wide range of applications and are been used in the automotive, architectecture, art, consumer products, casting, toy industries, medical and biomedical fields. Rapid prototyping is a tool for design, engineering and manufacturing. It is powerful tool for producing parts without machining , moulding or casting.
What is Rapid Prototyping?
It is the most general name given to a host of technologies that are used to build physical objects directly from CAD data sources. These methods are unique in there approach that they add and bond materials in layers to form required objects. Rapid prototyping process belongs to generative or additive production process. In contrast to subtractive process like milling , lathing, drilling, grinding and eroding. In Rapid prototyping the component is formed by joining elements. Rapid prototyping is also known by the different names like additive fabrication, three dimensional printing, solid freedom fabrication, layered manufacturing , digital fabrication, automated freeform fabrication and solid imaging. Today’s additive technologies offer advantages in many applications compared to classical subtractive fabrication methods such as milling or turning.
There is no need for elaborate machine setup or final assembly. Objects are formed with any geometric complexity or intricacy ;
Rapid prototyping systems reduce the construction of complex objects to a manageable, straightforward, and relatively fast process. 
Why Rapid Prototyping?
The reasons of Rapid Prototyping are
To increase effective communication.
To reduce the development time.
To decrease costly flaws during production.
To reduce sustaining engineering changes.
To increase product life time by adding necessary features and eliminating outmoded features early stages of design. 
Advantages and benefits of Rapid Prototyping:
Freedom of design: The production of complex parts is reduced to the accumulation of layers.
Well automated: No need for supervision during the build process.
Relative easy to employ: Little preparation and post processing is required. Avoiding the high cost of prototype tooling, allowing more design iterations.
Physical models are easy to check for errors. 
Some of the advantages of rapid prototyping systems are:
Reduction in the cost and risk of project.
Its application found in various industries.
Visual capabilities are improved in the early design phase with rapid prototyping. The user gets a better idea of the final product looks by observing the working model in early design stage.
The design flaws can be detected in the early stage before manufacturing.
The user can get a higher output.
The development costs are reduced considerably.
Rapid prototyping increases the speed of system development.
With rapid prototyping, deficiencies can be detected in the earlier prototype, coding activities and requirement analysis.
Potential risks involved in the delivery are refined by rapid prototyping.
10)The different aspects of the prototype can be tried and tested and immediate feedback is possible form user.
11)Rapid prototyping enables simple delivery of high quality product. 
Bascially, the progress of Rapid Prototyping can be seen in four major areas. The Rapid Prototyping Wheel depicts these four key aspects of Rapid Prototyping. They are:
The Wheel showing the four major aspects of Rapid Prototyping
Input refers to the electronic information required to describe the physical object with 3D data.
The method employed to produce the model.
The initial state of material can be solid, liquid or powder state. The materials can be paper, nylon, wax, resins, metals and ceramics etc.
Most of the Rapid P parts are finished or touched up before they are used
for their intended applications. Applications can be grouped into Design,
Engineering Analysis, Planning , Tooling and Manufacturing 
What is a prototype?
A prototype is a model of a product which is used for testing before a manufacturing run is ordered. Developing a prototype starts with the development of a concept for the product. Once the development team is given the go-ahead, a single working prototype is created. This prototype is evaluated to determine how effective it is, and additional prototypes may be developed with different features as the design team responds to feedback. 
BOOK Computer-Based Design and
5 USER GUIDE TO RAPID PROTOTYPING BOOK
8 springer series in advance manufacturing
10 BOOK RAPID PROTOTYPING 2003
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