Any engineer will tell you that all parts are not created equal. Design, form, function and materials all vary heavily depending on the part’s purpose, which is why rapid prototyping— and the ability to customize — is so important.
Rapid prototyping allows engineers the ability to hold a future product in their hands. More importantly, customization allows them to make this part better, more precise and even less expensive to produce.
Here are five custom tips for rapid prototyping and the value they bring to engineers:
Fit and function
Product development isn’t always linear. Oftentimes, components that will eventually work together are developed on completely different timelines. Customization allows engineers to test different prototypes against the complementary part even before either one is fully developed.
Who knew “New Coke” was going to wear out its welcome so quickly? Certainly not the person who came up with the recipe. But if he or she had been able to test it in real-world conditions, the way customized rapid prototyping allows engineers to test prototypes, it would have been apparent very quickly that “New Coke” was a bad idea. Engineers should use customized rapid prototyping to test parts in real-world conditions.
One of the most important benefits of customized rapid prototyping is the insight it gives into financial feasibility. If a part or component can be prototyped at a reasonable price, it’s a safe bet that it can be mass-produced at a reasonable price.
Want to know if there will be consumer interest in a new product? Then, don’t haul out a CAD drawing. Show the people a prototype. Prototypes do more than allow potential customers to envision a new product; they allow them to touch it, feel it and understand it.
Believe it or not, a failed prototype is actually a good thing because they often lead to new ideas, solutions and products that have never been conceived before.