When it comes to prototyping, it’s smart to sort out the kins of your design as quickly as possible to make sure you can start getting a return on your investment sooner rather than later. That investment could be time, money, and/or effort, but the sooner your design is ready for sale to customers, the sooner all that hard work can start to show results.
To that end, 3D-printing rapid prototyping can be a big help, though it’s not without its drawbacks. Rapid prototyping is a method of quickly producing design prototypes to test designs in an iterative fashion until you get the best one possible. 3D printing allows this to be done both quickly and economically. Prototypes do not always need to be made out of the same material as the final product since they won’t need to last as long or necessarily endure the same stresses and can be printed out of fairly cheap plastic. Plastic 3D printing can be done in a matter of hours for most products, and there is no need to worry about scale when it comes to setting up manufacture; all you’re paying for are the basic services of the 3D printer and the material costs.
The advantages of rapid prototyping are fairly straightforward. You’ll learn of issues and needed changes for your product quickly, making sure they don’t make it to the final design and on into the manufacturing line, which will mean returns, recalls, and dissatisfied customers. Because of this, rapid prototyping- while an expense unto itself- can often reduce cost in the long run.
You’ll also potentially get greater user engagement, especially if the part you’re putting through the rapid prototyping process is part of a larger project. Users, whether they’re a team or potential customers, will be able to handle a prototype part and better understand how it can fit into the whole. This as well as the feedback they will provide can increase communication and teamwork, even across different departments and sections.
Even with all these selling points, there are issues with rapid prototyping as well. If you get fixated on perfecting a prototype, you might lose sight of your larger project. The old saying “perfect is the enemy of the good” holds very true in prototyping and it’s important to not let perfecting every little detail of your design become the true end goal of your efforts.
The ease of rapid prototyping can also lead to delays. If an issue is discovered, it can cause a bottleneck in the project timeline if it’s difficult to figure out. Project leaders will need to decide if the issue is a must-fix or not, which can be very challenging especially as deadlines loom. The key is to integrate rapid prototyping into your project timeline, not let it dictate your project timeline.
Rapid prototyping is one useful tool to keep in mind when developing your product, whether it’s a personal project or intended for widespread sale. At Jawstec, we have used our expertise in 3D printing to help with rapid prototyping to help with a wide-range of projects, from individual personal projects to engineering being done by companies like SpaceX and Ford. Contact us today to see how we can help you, or try out our 3D print quote tool to see how you can start rapid prototyping your product!