Rapid Prototyping Tips

Jack Lie CNC machining expert

Specialize in CNC Milling, CNC Turning, 3D Printing, Urethane Casting, and Sheet Metal Fabrication Services.

Rapid prototyping can help you test the appearance, quality and performance of your design. You can diversify material selections and evaluate your potential market without having a major investment in time and money. Once you are satisfied with the prototype and decide to have batch production, there are a few things you need to handle correctly to guarantee a smooth transition to micron batches. We put these five tips together to help you streamline the journey of your new product introduction, and the best result is bound to be when your product goes on the market.

1. Select exact manufacturing process

Metal components

Metal prototypes are usually processed by CNC or metal 3D printing. Although metal 3D printing is nice for some certain prototypes, but it is not suitable for production in many cases. Though contempory technology is advancing, it is still too slow and costly for larger volumes exccept complex geometries and lightweight components. Most metal prototypes are processed by CNC, which is a good way to expand the volume because of the demand increases over time. For mass production, pressure die casting can be taken into consideration. This is the fastest and most economical way to manufacture large numbers of identical metal parts. Please note that PDC should follow some design rules for manufacturing and a production tool need to be invested. But this cost can be covered by a large production order.
plastic components
If the prototype is made of plastic, it is likely to be made by 3D printing, CNC machining or polyurethane vacuum casting. The optimal solution is plastic injection molding for larger volumes of plastic parts. when using rapid prototyping strict design rules need to be obeyed just like pressure die casting. These include the use of ribs and bosses, minimum wall thickness dimensions, draft angle, gate location, runners, thimble and many other considerations. Therefore, product developers should guarantee that their plans take into account the additional costs and time to market involved in the transition from one process to another.

2. Setout a list of materials

The prototype usually involves only a few completed parts, which are valued per complete unit. When entering the production stage, every item in the assembly needs to be counted clearly. Every amount of nuts, bolts and screws, rubber buttons or metal clips, or even paint or glue, must be calculated as a separate cost. More production lines means a more complex supply chain, so it is beneficial if design as simple as possible. Finally, a detailed BOM (a significant cost driver) can help you evaluate the labor cost.

3. Select the appropriate material

Sometimes prototypes are made of costly or special materials. This is done to make it an exhibit, to help marketing or funding events.However special materials are not a good choice for mass production, so more common raw materials will be used to replace them. Common raw materials will be less cost, easier and faster to obtain. Most importantly, manufacturers have more working experience with stock materials, which will make it easier to control process parameters to obtain more reliable results.

4. Select the accurate surface treatment

The appearance of prototype looks amazing after being carefully sanded, polished and hand-painted with custom colors. But on a large scale, is it feasible? Fine surface treatment often requires a lot of attention in details and meticulous manual work, which is not always possible in mass production.
If you want a specialized polishing, we suggest to find automate ways or insist one or two polishing instead of multiple polishing. For aluminum parts, anodizing is an attractive and very durable surface treatment method. Parts can be processed in batches as needed without a minimum quantity limited.

5. Develop certification and testing plan

Different with prototypes, parts for commercial usage need to be certified according to various safety and regulatory programs. It depends on many factors, including the environment in which the product is used, electricity is used or not, and the country in which it is sold. You should be ready to send the finished product to different organizations for certification, and calculate the time and cost of this necessary step.

Go to the next step

When you are ready to launch your prototype as a commercial product, we have prepared a complete set of in-house manufacturing services to help you expand from prototype to production. Contact us or upload your CAD file to get a free quote immidiately, and you will know why Runsom is the leader in prototype and new product development.