@plasticmaker: I have to agree about the role of both methodologies. You can never fully replace the physical prototype. Yet as you mentioned, by reducing the number of physical prototypes to one or two greatly takes cost, time, and late-stage workarounds out of the process, which ultimately leads to better products in a shorter timeframe.
I think there's a place for both virtual and physical prototyping, especially in the product manufacturing arena. During the design phase, virtual prototyping and finite analysis cut down on the cost of multiple physical prototypes by requiring the designer to make only one...maybe two actual renditions of what he's inventing. This also cuts down (in a big way) the amount of time it takes to complete a project!
I actually think virtual prototyping is used pretty extensively in manufacturing organizations today--particularly ones in the automotive, aerospace and heavy machinery sectors that have made significant investments in PLM and digital prototyping tools.
Most forward-thinking engineering organizations are pushing for more virtual prototyping and virtual simulation far earlier on the process because it is so much cheaper to iron out design flaws then before "bending metal," as they'll tell you. I think the cost of these tools has come down greatly, they have become far more accessible and easy to use, and I think usage is definitely on the rise. That said, clearly virtual prototypes will ever completely replace physical prototyping or even the rapid prototyping stuff. But using the digital world to reduce the number of physical prototypes built is definitely where it's heading.
Beth, what's the status of virtual modeling as a replacement for acual physical prototypes? It seems like virutal got a tremendous buzz a few years back, and now I don't hear much about it. I know virtual modeling is a huge success at P&G, but a lot of their modeling is process modeling and not product modeling. My own gut feel is that the tremendous advances in inexpensive, great-looking 3D-printed prototypes have pushed all-virtual modeling to the background. It seems I've been in many engineering departments where I asked the all-virutal question, and I get a kind of pained look on the face of the chief engineer, and a comment that begins: "We tried it on X, but......" What's your take?
The 3D printing revolution seems to have a knack for quickly moving technology ahead by way of collaborative effort and even a little friendly competition -- all of course in the name of scientific advancement.
Advantech has launched a new series of motion-control I/O modules to meet the increased demands that come with more distributed industrial systems that require control of a growing number of axes and devices.
A quick look into the merger of two powerhouse 3D printing OEMs and the new leader in rapid prototyping solutions, Stratasys. The industrial revolution is now led by 3D printing and engineers are given the opportunity to fully maximize their design capabilities, reduce their time-to-market and functionally test prototypes cheaper, faster and easier. Bruce Bradshaw, Director of Marketing in North America, will explore the large product offering and variety of materials that will help CAD designers articulate their product design with actual, physical prototypes. This broadcast will dive deep into technical information including application specific stories from real world customers and their experiences with 3D printing. 3D Printing is