In most scenarios it is never enough to just design something to operate as it should, and then move it on to production. Models and prototypes can save a company time, money and even embarrassment as it is in this engineering design stage that the flaws in a products design can become noticible.

Design teams can use scaled models of a proposed product in order to better understand its look, feel and impact in the real world and use these experiences to refine the design and make the overall product better. Prototypes though offer more data as they're made on actual scale by model-shop craftspeople using dimensioned sketches or CAD drawings. The downside to this is that it costs more and takes longer than a scaled model and design teams are usually budgeted on both money and time, meaning that this is an option that can't be used often on a product.

One solution to this is the use accurate 3D CAD models. CAD models have a variety of options to test clearances, materials, and in some CAD packages, can even apply real-world physics such as gravity to the models. If fact, fully rendered CAD models can look even better than the final, produced product. Should a prototype then be needed to check useability for people or to get consumer feedback the CAD model can be rapid prototyped from many materials in many different ways including fusion, melting or lamination.  

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