Unless your part is very simple, we will always recommend prototyping it. Prototyping a product and using it for the application it’s intended for can be very revealing. Often there are issues that are otherwise overlooked by simply looking at a drawing on a computer monitor:
- How does it function?
- Does it fit with a mating part correctly?
- Did someone get a dimension wrong?
- Does it look as appealing when seen in actual size?
Finding these things out early can save you a ton of money. While a change to a product after launch can be quite expensive,
making changes during the design and prototype stage is relatively inexpensive. There are many prototyping processes available, and your engineer should be able to tell you which one is best suited for your product.
- 3D printing is the most common process and is relatively inexpensive. Printers today can create parts indifferent colors andhardness’ and can create presentation-quality prototypes.
- Polymer casting is another common method. It starts with a 3D printed prototype that is submerged in a liquid silicone.Once the silicone hardens to a jelly-like consistency the prototype is cut out, leaving a void in the silicone the shape of the prototype. Finally, a liquid polyurethane is poured into that void and left to solidify (often overnight). These silicone molds will produce 20-50 parts before being destroyed. This process is often used for larger quantities and presentation-quality prototypes.
- Machining or fabricating is a third process used and is often determined by the geometry of the part. Many products cannot be fabricated because of their design, but the ones that can benefit from a relatively low cost. This process uses conventional equipment to machine sheets, rods, tubes, etc. to create your product.
Rex Plastics has in-house 3D printing capabilities as well as service agreements with other prototype producers to provide the right type of prototype for your needs. Ask for a free quote today.