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Why Prototyping may be the Right Choice for You

September 12, 2012

Prototype: a first full-scale and usually functional form of a new type or design of a construction.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the process of prototyping is the creation of an original model of a product. However, since we work with our customers in developing their parts, we know first hand that prototyping is more of a valuable and involved process, including the ability to roll the result into a pre-production run of parts or in a lower volume scenario, that have tooling investments to carry them through their production needs.

At what point in your manufacturing process are prototypes essential and cost-worthy? Some of the more important questions in the prototyping decision-making process include what casting, prototypeare the possible key elements you may have overlooked, what is your production investment for tooling your product, what is your level of confidence in your design and with your potential loss, and is your time frame critical to launch your product on the first attempt? Some pointed important reasons to opt for prototypes would be:

  1. You aren’t 100% confident in your design. Don’t compromise production tooling with potential modifications. For a fraction of the cost, prototypes can test for fit and function, testing, ergonomics and cosmetics. If the fit and function of your parts call for very specific tolerances or other specifications, prototypes are a much better option to start with.
  2. You are on a tight schedule. Prototypes help to speed products to market, and modifications are much easier and faster to accomplish on a urethane tool.
  3. You have a low scenario production run. Since die and production casting involves expensive, long lead time tooling, urethane or wood pattern tooling (soft tooling) is more economical, and lead times are shorter, getting parts in your hand faster.
  4. Your production intent is matched up well with Permanent mold or Die casting.
  5. Speed: Prototyping and soft tooling can take two weeks to produce while die casting tooling can take months to produce. You can use the prototypes to set up your production lines and machining while the die cast tools are still in production, along with getting your marketing under way.

Does prototyping sound like the right option for you? See what services we offer to help you on the road to your right parts!

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