Rapid prototyping can be defined as a group of techniques used to quickly fabricate a physical part or assembly using three-dimensional computer aided design (CAD) data and usually additive manufacturing techniques.
Construction of the part or assembly is usually done using 3D printing technology. The first techniques for rapid prototyping became available in the late 1980s and were used to produce models and prototype parts. Today, they are used for a much wider range of applications and are used to manufacture production-quality parts in relatively small numbers. Some sculptors use the technology to produce exhibitions.