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In the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, weapons engineers aboard the USS Enterprise didn’t need to search the galaxy for rapid-prototyping (RP) shops to model their phaser designs. All they had to do was program the ship’s holodeck with whatever death-ray design an engineer dreamed up in the shower, test the device on a few hostile Romulans and go into production.

Sizing up multiple micro prototyping options

Ready to prototype that new design? Today, there’s no shortage of options for modeling microscale parts and features. These include new and tried-and-true technologies that address key prototyping concerns, such as speed, accuracy, cost and quality.

June 15, 2011—FineLine Prototyping, Raleigh, N.C., has been serving the product development and manufacturing community for 10 years now.

Limitations in prototyping technology can make manufacturing a microfluidic system a leap of faith—a leap into the unknown that engineers don’t like to make.

World-renowned Doheny Eye Institute houses innovative micromachining shop

If you’re peck-drilling a micropart, dwell at the bottom of the hole for a few revolutions before pulling out—you’ll save your drill.

New developments increase rapid prototyping of microscale features

Rapid prototyping is any processing method that makes a test part faster and less expensively than would be possible using the process intended to make the part in volume. The generally accepted definition, however, is much narrower. Most consider RP processes to be those involving fabrication of a solid, freeform, 3-D object based on data from a 3-D CAD file.

Top Videos

Roland DGA Corp. offers a series of benchtop milling machines designed for tasks ranging from SRP (subtractive rapid prototyping) to manufacturing dental prosthetics and jewelry.

Objet Ltd., Billerica, Mass., has posted a cool video showing the capabilities of its new Objet30 Pro 3-D printer.

smart sandApril 2, 2012—Imagine you have a big box of sand in which you bury a tiny model of a footstool. A few seconds later, you reach into the box and pull out a fully formed, full-scale replica of the model that has self-assembled from the sand. That may sound like a scene from a Harry Potter novel, but it’s the vision animating a research project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently demonstrated a microscale rheometer that can make complex viscosity measurements on material as small as a 5 nanoliters, NIST reported in 2010.

Top Products

FineLine Prototyping Inc.

Fineline PrototypingFineLine Prototyping provides rapid prototyping services to the medical device industry. Specializing in high-accuracy, highresolution parts, the company operates 18 Viper HR stereolithography machines and offers high-resolution metal prototypes, microresolution parts, selective laser sintering and custom finishing.

FineLine Prototyping Inc.

Fineline stereolithographyFineLine Prototyping Inc. is a rapidprototyping and additive-manufacturing company that specializes in fabricating high-accuracy, high-resolution parts for the medical device industry.


microconnexMicroConnex uses patented electrical technology, proprietary connective techniques, advanced laser processes and thin-film sputtering capabilities to custom produce electrical interconnect circuit prototypes. MicroConnex offers flex circuits and rigid flex circuits, laser micromachining and drilling, laser direct write fabrication, flex circuit design, and thin film and plasma deposition.

With a 35-year history in contract manufacturing and printed circuit board (PCB) assembly, the Telan Corp., Hatfield, Pa., credits its success to the ability to handle small quantities, prototype PCB assemblies or large runs.

Resonetics, Nashua, N.H., this week introduced the RapidX250 laser micromachining system for microfluidic and microelectromechanical system (MEMS) devices. The rapid prototyping tool best suits corporate and university research requiring rapid prototyping tolerances approaching 1µm, according to the company news release.