ABS rapid prototyping is a technology where a 3D computer model is used to build a physical part by laminating layers
of ABS plastic, similar to a 3D printer. It’s speed and low cost allow
inventors or businesses to confirm their new designs early and frequently during the design process. Some parts are useable in the direct ABS form, where others will be tooled for production in metal, plastic,
or other materials.
Wolverton Mechanical Design and ABS Prototyping Inc. uses a Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) system that extrudes a molten
layer of ABS plastic and deposits it layer upon layer to build the prototype part. The
build material is in filament form contained in a cartridge which is loaded into the FDM machine. The machine feeds the material from the cartridge to a head which melts the material. The head moves in an X and Y horizontal directions, while the platform moves in the Z or vertical direction. As each layer is deposited, the added material quickly solidifies and the build platform
drops allowing the next layer to be added. This process continues until a complete
3D model is produced.
Unlike some other rapid prototyping methods that are primarily designed to produce a part for visual or dimensional
verification, FDM prototypes are high strength and in some applications can be used for functional testing. Functional prototypes have been used in wind tunnel tests, camera mounts on an M1A Bradley tank and fuel
mixing valves for a natural gas powered reciprocating engine. ABS is highly inert
to many chemicals and will not deteriorate quickly in outdoor environments.