How does Rapid Prototyping Work?
Rapid prototyping is a technology that takes a three-dimensional computer model and builds a three dimensional part by building layers upon layer of material. Its speed and low cost allow design teams to confirm their new designs early and frequently in the process.
Start with a 3 dimension computer model. Typically created in 3D CAD products like Solid Works, Rhino, Pro/E, Mechanical Desktop etc.
From 3D CAD, an STL file is exported. Typically done as a "File Save As …". Xpress3D CAD Add-ins perform this step automatically.
The STL file is then translated into hundreds (or even thousands) of cross sectional data.
Starting with the bottom slice, the prototyping machine builds each slice upon the previous, until all the slices are built and the prototype is complete.