Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility What are the Differences Between 3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping?

Differences Between 3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping

With the inception of new technologies in the market, the product development process has changed dramatically. For instance, 3D printing and rapid prototyping have made product development easier.

3D printing prototyping and rapid prototyping are technologies that are utilized in additive manufacturing. However, both of these methods are sometimes used interchangeably. A lot of people are confused between the two.

If we address on technical grounds, the two terms exhibit many similarities, as both can create a model layer by layer from STL data. However, there are certain factors that are different and make these two varied processes.

If you want to learn the difference between these techs, we have brought you complete details in this blog. Here’s what you need to know.

Rapid Prototyping and 3D Printing – Definition3D Printing

What is 3D Printing?

3d printing and additive manufacturing is a process that makes use of a 3D model to turn into a physical object. The process uses a material that is fabricated using a print head, nozzle, or printing technology.

What is Rapid Prototyping?

There are several rapid prototyping types. The crux of rapid prototyping lies in its modeling process. RP is an application used in additive manufacturing to create a model quickly. After which, 3D printing or additive technology is used to get the final result.

So, from these definitions the role of 3d printing in rapid prototyping is clear. However, various components make them different. Let’s have a look

Differences Between 3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping

  • Price

The cost difference between 3d printing and rapid prototyping is significant. Right from system maintenance, choice of materials, labor to machine depreciation, rapid prototyping is expensive as compared to 3d printing.

Furthermore, the maintenance of a 3D printer is not much expensive. It can take you to a few thousand dollars per year which is far cheaper than a rapid prototyping system costing you up to $10,000 annually.

  • The complexity of Printing Method

3D printing requires less or minimal training depending on the supporting structures or complexity of components. However, things are quite opposite with rapid prototyping. The parameters involved in RP are not easy to adjust.

With 3D printing, you can create parts right out of the box depending on the accuracy of your components. The higher the accuracy the longer it will take to print. Creating 3Ddrawings can take you a while as it will hold your process but once you are clear with a design, generating output is cheap and fast.

  • Material Choices

3D modeling design does not offer you a wide range of material options as seen in rapid prototyping. Although the technology is advancing yet the resources for 3D printing are low as compared to rapid prototyping.

3D printing is restricted to PVC and other plastic materials. However, we can expect technology to make use of ceramics in 3D printing shortly.

  • Level of Accuracy

If we talk about the accuracy levels, rapid prototyping can generate more accurate and better finishes as compared to 3d printing. Although both of the processes make use of similar features including the geometry and size of parts yet RP system is more advanced and accurate.

Furthermore, 3D printers are only restricted to producing small parts that can only fit in an 8-inch cube. However, with RP systems you can build chambers up to at least 10 inches on one side and others up to 3x3x2 feet or larger.


3D printing and rapid prototyping, both of these methods are equally useful and can become a great part of your business. It can bring greater opportunities for product development at your establishment. Moreover, it can also allow you to think out of the box and explore complex designs for growth and productivity.