15 Nov 2023

Plastic prototyping is a common practice for plastic manufacturers. It is important to understand what it is and why it matters.

What is plastic prototyping?

Plastic prototyping is a crucial stage in product development where a plastics manufacturer creates a preliminary version of a product using plastic materials. This process allows for testing and validating design concepts before moving on to mass production. By utilizing various plastic molding techniques, such as injection molding or 3D printing, manufacturers can quickly and cost-effectively produce prototypes that closely resemble the final product. The plastic prototype plays a vital role in refining designs, identifying potential issues, and ensuring the overall functionality and aesthetics of the end product.

Below: 3D printing is a common, cost-effective way to prototype plastic parts:

3d printing machine making a plastic prototyping piece.

What is the importance of plastic prototyping?

A plastic prototyping manufacturer will use this method to test the design of a product. While a product may appear viable and complete in a virtual model or on paper, there are some mistakes or errors that are only discoverable with a physical model. A shortcoming found on a plastic prototype is much less costly than one discovered after a mass production run. 

What are the four main purposes of plastic prototyping?

When a plastics manufacturer creates a plastic prototype, there are four main purposes it accomplishes for them and their client:

Visualize and test functionality of final products

A plastic prototype gives the designer something to hold and test physically. This ensures that whatever function or application the product needs to perform will be achievable in the final model.

Below: for a plastic product with moving parts, like this guitar string winder from Rex Plastics, prototyping is essential:

guitar string winder from Rex Plastics plastic prototyping

Refines product design & clarifies issues

Product design is not a one-and-done process. An experienced plastic manufacturer understands the back and forth needed between client, designer and manufacturer that is needed to produce a final product free of issues.

Below: CNC machining is another method of prototyping Rex Plastics has experience with:

CNC machine making a plastic prototype piece.

Saves time and money of production

The more parts a client needs to produce, the more it will cost them, and the more it will take up machine runtime. If a mistake is found in the design that compromises the functionality of a product only after a production run, the costs can be catastrophic. There’s no telling how many hours and dollars a simple prototype can save.

Gives potential customers trust in your product

A prototype is often the first time a customer can physically interact with their product. A plastics manufacturer that can give them this will gain their trust since the customer knows that both parties are striving for a useful, optimized final product. This trust helps build the relationship between the client and the manufacturer. And will help carry them through the project, potentially to more successful projects in the future. 

How to find a manufacturer for your plastic project

Finding a manufacturer that understands the significance of a plastic prototype is essential for any product designer. Rex Plastics is proficient in the field of engineering and rapid prototyping services. With competencies stretching from state-of-the-art 3D Printing Services to short and long run plastics molding, we are able to answer all of your injection mold and part design needs in a fully CAD-enabled environment. We have a wide variety of several prototyping capabilities and methods, and are equipped to handle the process of design all the way through to a final product run. Reach out to us for a quote today!