Quick Guide to Prototyping
Prototyping is a crucial part of any company’s design process, it gives you the chance to prove that the design is fit for purpose before launching a product into the market place. Having a fully working prototype gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your idea to potential investors or stakeholders. When prototyping is done effectively it can be hugely beneficial in terms of getting your product to market faster as well as reducing total project costs.
Prototypes come in many forms and can vary in cost. In order to maximise the benefits of prototyping choosing the right method is key. Here at RP we know the importance of prototyping and have supported a vast array of industries in their prototype requirements. With different options available it might seem daunting trying to choose the correct method; we have put together a short list to help you decide which method is right for your project:
Additive Manufacturing or sometimes referred to as Rapid Prototyping, or even 3D Printing. This is a very broad spectrum and includes SLS, FDM and SLA. This method is good for 1-2 off prototypes and depending on geometry can be very quick and is often seen as very cost effective. However, this process has its limitations due to limited material choice and the restricted functionality of the prototype.
CNC Machining, this prototype method is again very good for low volumes. This process is also a quick turnaround as parts can be made in just a few days. Advantages over additive manufacturing are the wider choice of materials giving much more functional components.
Rapid Injection Moulding, sometimes referred to a soft tooling or aluminium tooling. This method is seen as the most expensive however in terms of providing prototypes the components are as near to production parts as possible. The options for material choice are much wider and more complex features such as over moulding, inserts and internal threads are common within prototype moulding. With tooling being manufactured from aluminium rather than steel lead time and costings are both reduced, and tooling can also be taken into production depending on requirements.
In many cases, companies will use a combination of either two or sometimes all three methods for their prototyping requirements. Choosing the right method for your company can save project costs and even speed your product to market faster, which will be a whole new subject in the RP series.
RP’s ‘without limits’ philosophy means we’ll offer a solution to meet your needs no matter how simple or complex the component design or process. RP manufacture what you’ve designed, no changes just a simple solution.
If you would like to discuss your prototype requirements with RP, please get in touch with Paul Roe on 0121 550 5868.