Our Prototype Process
- Keep it a secret.
We make our prototypes in-house here in the USA. We rarely send any components outside our company for prototyping. In a first to file world, the fewer people who know what you are doing the better. You can spend more money on developing a great product and less on legal. We have delivered prototypes with custom electronics, housings, motors and software to customers with only 2 people in the world (our customer and engineer) knowing what it is.
- Make it flexible.
Make sure you can switch out components and try different things to get the result you want. It will be quicker and cheaper to plan upfront for change and make a couple of flexible prototypes than a dozen of slightly cheaper ones.
- Prototyping Cost Mirrors Manufacturing Cost.
We use this to forecast for startup cost. Even though a prototype component will be much cheaper in production, high prototyping cost may indicate that an expensive tool is needed for mass production. High prototype component cost may also mean the wrong material is being used. Also, it is cheaper to use the same part in many places than a bunch of slightly different parts.
- Components should reflect mass production methods
Injection molded plastic parts must follow design rules. The rules should be reflected in the prototype as much as possible. Use the production material wherever possible.
Beyond 3D printing
There is no need to limit your options to what can come off a 3D printer. We machine custom parts from steel, weld structures, CNC wood, just name a few things. With all these skills in one place we design and prototype products that would normally require large teams and cost hundreds of thousands and get them done much less.
Our in-house prototyping fabrication capabilities include:
Having our own machines means we use the right tool for the right job. Most of our prototypes are hybrids of machined, welded, printed and laser cut parts.
- 3D printing
- CNC Machining of Steel, Aluminum, Plastic and wood
- Manual Lathe
- Manual Mill
- Sheet Metal Forming
- Laser Cutting
- MIG Welding
- Custom Electronic Board Building
- Vacuum Forming
- Plastic welding
- Embedded Programming
- PCB assembly thru-hole and surface mount
- PCB machining
Some of our clients went into production with our designs after receiving the first prototype.