Rapid prototyping essentially refers to (according to Google) “a group of techniques used to quickly fabricate a scale model of a physical part or assembly using three-dimensional computer aided design data…construction of the part or assembly is usually done using 3D printing”. Essentially, rapid prototyping is being utilised to change the way that manufacturers and creators approach product design and the production of said products. First publicised in publications like The New York Times in the 1990s, rapid prototyping has made great strides in advancement and enhancement. There are multiple forms of rapid prototyping out there. Each of them has its own distinct advantages and benefits, but the most popular form of rapid prototyping happens to be 3D printing. A technological innovation that literally allows, envisions, and creates a representation of a physical object into a clone-like copy, 3D printing is, to say the least, revolutionary. In fact, rapid prototyping is so useful and promising as a technology that it is even now utilised as a modern education tool. But why?
It all starts with the capability of rapid prototyping to bring design concepts to life in ways that reduce production costs and time. Prior to the introduction of rapid prototyping to the modern classroom, bringing design concepts to life was often an expensive and time-consuming process. Most (if not all) steps in creation were manually driven and were very much steps that, if they were later found to be incorrect in any capacity, had to be entirely recreated from the ground up. When rapid prototyping was first introduced into the classroom, all that changed. Students were suddenly able to conduct their projects and trial and error in ways that were vastly more efficient in terms of both cost and time. The significant cut downs in cost and time alone have had such a dramatic impact on the surging growth and popularity of rapid prototyping in the modern classroom, that these improvements alone signal a deliberate shift towards utilising rapid prototyping in the classroom.
When considering rapid prototyping and its uses in the modern classroom, it is important to note that the underlying value in this technology lies in the quality it provides students in a visual sense. Modern students have grown up in a world where they are entirely and positively immersed in and surrounded by technological innovations. One of the inevitable effects of growing up in a world like that is you become quite visual. Having an education tool like rapid prototyping at their disposal allows these students to utilise the concept of visual learning at its peak. This is an obvious benefit because it means that not only are they theoretically learning it all, but they are literally going through the process of physically learning it all both progressively and visually. It is a unique approach to learning (and teaching, for that matter) that has firmly established rapid prototyping as a genuine tool for modern (and future) academic purposes.
Additionally, rapid prototyping allows for quick changes, meaning that students can alter and realign their projects in record time, giving them more time to customise said projects. Project work is often a semester-long assessment, and with the inclusion of rapid prototyping as a key fundamental component in the completion of these projects, the speed of rapid prototyping allows for more time for quick changes and further customisation. Essentially, the final project can be a lot more detailed and fine-tuned than it would have been otherwise. And finally, there is the significantly reduced amount of design flaws that rapid prototyping produces. This fact ultimately gives modern students the ability to produce work of a much higher quality, with less busy work than would otherwise be necessary to bring the project to life. At the end of the day, it is all about understanding the uses and value of rapid prototyping not only in theory, but in active practice.
Modern education is all about efficiency meeting innovation, and this is perhaps nowhere as well pronounced as it is in the introduction and ongoing advancements of technological enhancement in the classroom. Modern students thrive on visual learning, and a large part of technological enhancement centres around visual learning. Rapid prototyping is one of the most significant technological innovations in play right now, and it is most certainly one of the most positively influential in the modern classroom. Through rapid prototyping, students today can embrace their affinity for visual learning and fine-tune their knowledge and skills through the ongoing advancements in rapid prototyping. Their projects are being created, fine-tuned, redrafted, and refined through rapid prototyping. It has proven to be the ultimate way to see their projects in the flesh, and understand exactly where and why they do not always go according to plan, and what can be done to improve them moving forward. At the end of the day, modern students are wholeheartedly embracing rapid prototyping as a key modern learning tool – and it has more than proven its value, time and again.