Producing sample parts, one-off runs and very limited runs help design firms and prototype manufacturers put out great replicas of a working product.
No one wants to place a large order or dive into full production without knowing what they get for the money. Obviously, prototypes play a critical role in the sales, design and end production phases.
Advantages of prototype casting
Prototypes play a critical part in the design process. Designers can gain tangible proof of the quality of the component, find unexpected flaws and perform testing that delivers invaluable data. All of these things reassure customers. Beyond that, marketers can use prototypes to gain feedback from customers or investors before production begins.
The prototype casting process
Engineers and manufacturing professionals can use a number of different methods to produce prototypes, such as rapid prototyping technology, CNC machining or casting with molds. All of these methods can be used at a lesser cost than what is needed for final production, mainly because perfect copies of a part only need to be made a few times.
Prototype casting involves taking a liquid polymer or molten metal material and pouring it into a mold, no matter what technology is used prior to the formation of the piece. This process allows designers and engineers to make parts in a wide range of sizes and surface details with a variety of finishes.
The molds themselves are made from rubber, silicone and sometimes metal for prototype casting. Rapid prototyping technology often uses silicon for its low cost, light weight and speed to production.
As manufacturers look to compete in the marketplace, speed becomes a critical piece of the puzzle. This may turn some off to the prototype casting process, but when you consider the money and time wasted on low-quality parts, flaws or unmarketable products, producing a prototype makes a lot of sense.