Rapid prototyping ultimately will save you time and money. By being able to test your designs before manufacturing them on mass, you can verify that your part works as designed and even tweak that design to improve performance. Quick turnaround prototyping is a low-risk approach for improving your product before it goes into mass production.
Probably the biggest advantage of quick turnaround prototyping is producing a “first draft” of a product to see if the design works as intended. A draft design or CAD drawing does not provide you with the same information as a physical product that you can hold in your hand and interacts with the world. Any number of problems such as an extruded heat sink that doesn’t fit in the casing that it was designed for, holes or grooves in the wrong place, or a design flaw that doesn’t let the product connect properly with other parts as needed are just a few of the design issues that might be uncovered by a quick turnaround prototype.
Rapid turnaround prototyping provides flexibility when it comes to adding or removing features to a product design at the request of a customer. It also allows you to fix flaws in your initial design quickly and produce a product that is closer to what you or your customer envisioned when you came up with the initial idea. In addition, subtle adjustments to form, fit, and function can be made to improve the usability or function of the product.
Product design is an iterative process. Rapid turnaround prototyping allows you to test out new features and designs before you commit to large scale manufacturing of the product. It is also a great way to produce first draft products for usability testing, mechanical function, workability, and adaptability.
Rapid turnaround prototyping allows you to make mistakes on a small scale, before committing to the expense of fixturing and tooling costs for a large-scale production. Fixturing and tooling costs are typically one of the most expensive parts of the manufacturing process. Nothing is worse (or more expensive) than manufacturing a new product that does not work due to a design flaw. This means that you need to go back to the drawing board to fix the design, redo the fixturing and tooling, and pay for it a second time.
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