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3D Printed or Conventional Machined
When developing and marketing a new product, a prototype of some form can be very helpful, and even essential in some cases. Whether to communicate the product idea, demonstrate proof of concept, or for a pitch to an investor or licensee, having a prototype in hand can be very valuable.
With our team of experienced engineers including specialists in multiple disciplines, as well as our in-house machine shop and 3D printing capability, we can produce prototypes to fit your needs ranging from simple static mock ups to fully functioning prototypes.
For most prototyping methods, the process begins with inputting the product design into CAD software such as SolidWorks. For example, 3D printing requires the design to first be in CAD, where it can then be converted to an .stl polygon file, then converted once again into a 3D printer g-code file for printing.
Today 3D rapid prototyping methods allow us to execute fast and frequent changes or revisions of their early stage designs. This technology allows the developer, to quickly realize how the part, or product will look and perform, before investing in expensive tooling, molds, and developing the manufacturing process for the new product.
Though still an involved process to create a physical 3d modeled part or product utilizing this technology, it can be less costly than old fashion methods, where any such part or assembly, had to be prototyped in the machine shop, and often times very expensive molds would have to be constructed, to evaluate any new physical product.
Rapid prototyping with 3D printing allows product designers and engineers more iterations in less time, so they can test thoroughly while still reducing time to market. Though it is still very important to have clear design intent as generally speaking, the later a problem is discovered in the design process, the more costly it may be to correct. Finding and fixing problems early in the design process is essential to keeping a project on-budget and on-time.
A wide range of 3D printing materials can produce tough, functional engineering prototypes for highly accurate performance testing, or realistic models that look and feel, and operate like your finished part or product. Material is generally chosen based on these and other criteria.
Many modern materials have been adapted for use with 3d printers such as photopolymers, thermoplastics, organic bio-degradable plastics, metals and composite materials which provide a full spectrum of choice, and material properties. Many of these materials can withstand secondary post processing processes like sealing, polishing, painting, metallization or electroplating, and post 3D printing.
We can 3D print with a number of different materials including PLA and ABS plastics for different applications. Post-processing can also be done on 3D printed parts to enhance their appearance and feel.
With our in-house machine shop, we are able to create prototypes with the use of milling and boring, heat treating and surface grinding capabilities, etc. We can work with almost any material such as general metals, carbon fiber, alloys, polymers/plastics, wood, and more. For projects requiring it, we are able to do precision machining that can produce tightly held tolerances of +/-.0001" (plus or minus one ten-thousandth of an inch).
For other processes which we cannot perform in-house such as CNC, water jet, laser, plasma, and other large scale fabrication, we have outside vendors that we can work with for your project.
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