In the fabrication industry, specifically metal fabrication, you are probably in one of three phases: prototype, production, and mass production. All three are treated completely different when manufacturing. You will need a print or sketch in order to generate solid works models. Although we are not a design house, we can design parts for a fee or refer you to design engineers within our network. Below discusses what the prototype stage is, what it’s used for, and why it is important.
Prototype: This stage may also be known as product or part development. This is when your part or product is in its infancy stage. It is recommended that you work with a design house or engineer to help develop the product correctly to save money in the long run by getting it designed and engineered right the first time. This stage of manufacturing is for the purpose of testing out the design to see if it is feasible or if changes need to be made.
Many times prototype quantities range from 1 to 10. Since there is less economies of scale and the set up costs are allocated to very low quantities, prototypes are substantially more expensive per part to fabricate than production or even mass production. Prototypes may be fabricated using different materials, hardware, and finish than what would be used during production to validate the design only (also known as a rapid prototype), whereas some prototypes are meant to be an exact replica of the part before moving forward to production. Therefore, prototypes require a lot of hand holding from a manufacturers’ point of view. One or a few fabricators may be involved in fabricating a prototype where they are walking the prototype through the entire manufacturing process until complete.
What are the benefits of prototyping?
Depending on how far along in the product development stages, a prototype can not only save money, but also be most economical when developing a product or making changes to a product. Since we have been in business for over 50 years, we have seen numerous companies jump right into production without making prototypes first. Many times, these companies aren’t so lucky with this business decision. When designing a new product or making changes, we recommend investing in prototypes as they are quicker than production, and since only a few are fabricated, it’s easy to make changes where needed without having hundreds or thousands of bad parts to make changes to. Not only that, but many start-up companies benefit from prototyping since it’s quick and easy to have prototypes made for investors to help obtain funding. Another reason we recommend prototypes is because many engineers rely solely on SolidWorks. But SolidWorks is not a perfect world, so actually fabricating parts can test to see if the parts are engineered correctly. These are just a couple scenarios of how prototyping can benefit your company, but here is a list of other benefits:
- Can be used as “proof of concept” for obtaining investors
- Gives an idea of what the final product will look like before moving into production
- Cost effective in the long run
- Perfect for research and development
- If changes need to be made, you’re not left with hundreds or thousands of bad parts
- Acts as a physical concept rather than on paper for testing of products to consumers or other companies to see if the product will sell
Here at Vista Industrial Products, Inc., we are not known for providing prototypes, but have the capabilities to do one-offs or low quantities. However, we are not a rapid prototype house, so if we fabricate prototypes, they will be with a standard lead time which is three to four weeks for production.
An advantage to utilizing our manufacturing engineers is that they have access to the 153,000 square foot facility with state-of-the-art equipment. We are a true one-stop job-shop for all your manufacturing needs. We cater to all size companies from startups to large companies. If you are interested in having us quote quality prototypes that do not require quick turnarounds, feel free to contact us for a quote by visiting our Request For Quote or RFQ page!
Already have your prototypes completed and ready to move to the next step??
If you have already done your research and development with prototypes and looking to go into production, please visit our Production Page for more information of how we can help you with your production needs.
Or if you have done prototypes, succeeded at production, and ready to move onto mass production, but want to keep it in the USA, please visit our Mass Production page!
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