Title: A comparative study of virtual prototyping and physical prototyping

Authors: Ian Gibson, Zhan Gao, Ian Campbell

Addresses: Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, ROC. ' Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, ROC. ' Department of Design and Technology, Loughborough University, UK

Abstract: The new product development process makes use of both virtual and physical prototypes. There is an increasing need to reduce the time and cost required when converting from one to the other. There is also a potential need to use them both simultaneously. Virtual Prototyping (VP) and Physical Prototyping (PP) are two techniques that have many similar goals, but which achieve them in very different ways. With VP, the approach is to create as precise a numerical model as possible in the easiest possible way, whereas PP creates a physical model. This paper tries to define VP in a sense where it can be compared and contrasted with PP. The most obvious common area is in the early stages of product development, namely conceptualisation. Two different experimental implementations of real-time integration of virtual and physical prototyping are described. A virtual CAD technique is also described that aims to create concept models in an intuitive form that may be suitable for artistic sculptors. A conclusion is made that PP (through the layer-based Rapid Prototyping (RP) technology) and VP are valuable techniques that can join together to form a powerful tool for rapid development of complex products.

Keywords: rapid prototyping; virtual prototyping; physical prototyping; real-time integration; numerical modelling; rapid product development; virtual CAD; prototyping integration.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMTM.2004.005931

International Journal of Manufacturing Technology and Management, 2004 Vol.6 No.6, pp.503 - 522

Published online: 29 Dec 2004 *

Full-text access for editors Full-text access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article