Are you looking at getting your product prototyped? Bringing a new product to market is always exciting and turning that dream from an idea into something that you can hold is actually fairly easy. Below I will go through the steps that the pros use to get their product prototyped.
There are many approaches that you can take during the design phase. Typically rough sketches combined with some 2d and 3d modeling can be done to determine dimensions. Also take note of certain tolerances that your cnc or rapid prototyping machine may have.
With cnc machines, you have a much larger tolerance, but for a rapid prototyping machine, you could go down to less than a millimeter depending on the machine.
3d CAD program options
3d CAD applications and programs can be expensive. I recommend Solidworks, but Solidworks can be highly expensive. Alternatives include Concepts Unlimited, Rhino, Pro Engineer and others. You don’t need anything too fancy unless you are modeling something really complex.
What you need to focus on is export options. Depending on the machine you will be using, there are different file formats that are accepted. Talk to your cnc technician to find out if you need an IGES file or an STL file. It varies depending on the machine and software that the cnc programmer may use.
Choosing the type of manufacture
Everything seems to be cnc cut or routed these days. There are other options including rapid prototyping for smaller objects too. The main difference between cnc machines are the different amount of axis each may have. A 5 axis cnc machine is a lot more flexible compared to a 3 axis machine.
Then there is the cutting or routing type. Many use a traditional drill type piece, but you can now get laser, plasma and even water cutters. Every project is different and will require a different approach and thus a bit of research before beginning.
This is probably the most important part of the process. Always check surface quality before and after finishing the project. If you are getting someone else to paint your product, make sure you pay them afterwards. This allows you to inspect the project first before committing to pay.
Cnc can be cheaper depending on the surface finish, so make sure you are prepared to put in more time finishing the product if you go a bit cheaper during the cnc process.
Remember to prepare wel and to keep a close eye on all stages of your project. Give specific instructions and you should be well on your way to bringing your product to reality.
What tips do you have for getting your product prototyped?
About the Author: Edwin is an experienced designer writing on behalf of PLCTechnician distance education program for PLC technicians. Edwin has a passion for technology and great design.