An iterative process to prove fit, form and function
Continuing on from the concept design stage you will have used the photo realistic concept presentation to establish market interest before committing to this stage. We advise establishing interest before prototyping as this stage can be expensive. Before a prototype is made the CAD will need to be developed for the prototyping processes and may need to be altered, based on feedback from investors, companies and prospective users.
Why prototype when licensing your product
It is not always necessary to get a prototype made, but producing one can make a big difference when presenting your idea to industry particularly if there are any critical aspects that need proving. A prototype can add credibility & ‘realness’ to your pitch & may increase the size of your royalty share.
Why prototype when manufacturing your product
No if’s or but’s, you need to embark on the process of further engineering and prototyping to verify and refine the design before investing in tooling and manufacture.
Types Of Prototype
There are various levels of prototype. Depending on the complexity and the goal we want to achieve, determines which type of prototype is used. If it’s a particularly tricky product we may want to produce a “Proof of Concept” to prove all the mechanical features. If it’s simple, involving 1 or 2 parts we may jump straight into producing a visual prototype of the product.
This type of prototype conveys the overall shape and size of the product but does not usually prove the function of the idea. It is not designed to represent the materials or production methods of a final mass produced product.
Proof of Concept
A prototype that demonstrates the main functionality of the idea. This type of prototype will probably make use of ‘off the shelf’ components and is unlikely to look like the final product.
This type of prototype combines the functionality of the product with the overall appearance. Often using custom-made parts, it is likely that production grade materials will be used.
This type of prototype builds on the work of a presentation prototype by fully considering production manufacturing methods and production. The parts are likely to be created using full-scale production methods and materials.
We’ve been using 3D printing technologies for years, and people before have also done so. It’s only been of late where it has been trusted into the media spot light. There are various types of 3D printing and depending on the purpose of the model determines which process we use. They range from very rough which is good to observe form and size to more detailed high quality prints which can test fit and function. 3D printing has allowed designers and engineers really speed up the process and produce better designs.
Fused Deposition Modelling is very similar to how hot glue gun works. In a FDM machine instead of using glue sticks, long plastic wire is used. Once a model has been created in CAD it’s sliced into very thin sections, the FDM machine then squirts melted plastic layer after layer until the model is made. If the model contains over hanging sections the machine builds a support structure which is removed after either by hand or put into a special soap bath which dissolves it.
Selective Laser Sintering models are made by bonding thin layers of nylon powder by a laser. After a layer is bonded to the previous layer the machine coats another fine layer of nylon powder over the top by a roller to form another layer of the model. Once the model has been created the vac containing the model is removed and all the excess nylon powder is removed
Stereolithography is a very similar process to SLS however SLA forms an object by pointing a laser into a vat of liquid ultraviolet resin, curing the model layer by layer. For each layer the laser beam traces a cross-section of the part onto the surface of the liquid resin. After each layer has been cured the SLA’s bed drops by a distance equal to the thickness of a single layer
PolyJet Inkjet based technology works like an everyday inkjet printer however it uses state of the art photopolymer materials in ultrathin layers. Again each model is built up layer by layer. Once a layer has been printed it’s then immediately cured by UV light. It uses a support material to support overhangs are then dissolved with water