Concept models are typically needed early in the design process to demonstrate new ideas. Concept models are built to look and feel like finished products, and can be used to collect market and user feedback, while also helping with trade shows and promotional material. These models are often created using a variety of production processes to incorporate both hard plastic and rubber-like components, along with clear areas, buttons and numbers, graphics and logos, etc. Common processes include SLA, SLS, CJP, Polyjet, and Cast Urethane parts.
SLA concept models can be finished to be extremely clear (with certain materials), and can be painted with automotive grade paint in a professional paint booth. Paint can be color matched so that the concept models align with the customer’s logos or corporate branding standards.
SLS is an excellent choice for concept models when the application requires a more durable and functional model. The SLS process uses a nylon based powder that is similar to production thermoplastics, so the resulting parts are both accurate and strong.
The CJP process can print concept models in brilliant full color, without requiring any secondary painting or artistry work. Company logos, artwork and lettering, .jpg renderings, and virtually infinite color combinations and patterns are all easily produced. This process is used very commonly for Architectural models.
Polyjet presents similar capabilities as the SLA process, but can also print in multiple materials. Imagine a model with both a hard plastic component, as well as a soft elastomeric portion. This is a very common process for concept models of handheld electronics, push button prototypes, and housings with gaskets.
Cast Urethane concept models are both versatile and extremely functional and durable. They are produced off of a repeatable silicone mold, and can be textured and/or color matched, and can include inserts and pad printing of numbers, text, or logos.