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What You Need to Know About Prototype Manufacturing: Its Materials, Process, and Development

by Nice Rapid | Apr 10,2020 | Rapid Prototyping

cnc machining parts

The market is very competitive, and it will spell doom for a company if they fail to respond to their customer’s demands. Therefore, they need to find ways to speed up their time to market to survive. In many different industries, product design and development needs prototypes to check, test, and evaluate their design for business and technical purposes. This is the importance of prototype manufacturing.

This article aims to answer the questions for the best way to manufacture and source prototypes to put the ideas to the test.

Some large companies do prototype manufacturing in-house, but for small firms and design companies, they often outsource their prototypes because they don’t have enough expertise and equipment to do them. You can find companies that perform outsourcing like Nice Rapid in China that specializes in producing prototypes.

Critical Considerations for Prototype Manufacturing

When considering prototype manufacturing, you have to consider the process technology and the materials to use for each of your projects. There are prototypes like those for functional and engineering that need the same material as the production part. Some may need a lower cost or easy to manufacture material and process.

Materials Used in Prototyping

To determine the materials to be used in your prototyping, you have to consider what the prototype will be needed for. Some prototypes need the same material as the production part because the stiffness, strength, and properties should be tested. Others may be used for presentation and marketing purposes and do not require the same material as the finished product.

Here are some of the materials used in prototyping are the following:

  • ABS
  • ABS-like
  • HDPE
  • Nylon
  • PA2200 Nylon
  • PBT
  • PC and Many others
  • Metals like Aluminum, Brass, carbon steel, copper, mild steel and stainless steel

Process Used in Prototype Manufacturing

The right prototyping technique depends on the requirement of the design. There are inexpensive techniques like 3D printing that used to produce the concept and ideas into prototypes quickly. However, this process lacks the quality, strength, and functional characteristics of the finished product.

Plastic parts and other custom prototypes may choose any of the following prototyping techniques.

  • Urethane casting
  • Vacuum forming
  • Low volume injection molding
  • CNC machining

The Role of Prototypes in Product Development

Prototype manufacturing has many benefits, especially in the process of product development. It is used to realize the concept and is an integral part of the iterative process. Stakeholders need proof-of-concept so that they have a tangible representation of the idea. It will help them to understand the design at the beginning of the product cycle.

The prototype also serves as a communication tool to explain to the people involved in product development. With a physical representation, it can help the project to move forward. Feedback on the design is also more concrete and actionable, and the manufacturability is more understood.

Accurate and low-cost production of prototypes can also serve as the bridge for product soft launch while waiting for full production. It can help to get the product to market faster.

To learn more about prototype manufacturing, go to Nice Rapid.

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