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How To Know If Your Idea Is Ready For A 3D Printed Prototype

Updated: Aug 22, 2021

There is going to be a moment in time during your product development phase where drawings just won’t cut it anymore. Even if you can completely visualize the workings of your new invention in your head, you will need to go a step further. Yes, 3D computer programs can assist with working out some of the obvious kinks but nothing truly compares to being able to actually hold and maneuver an actual, physical prototype of your idea. But isn’t that going to be a costly step? Well, sure, if you go to a machinist and order just one and the foundry or mechanics that are left with the task of creating the parts for your invention are going to cost you a few bucks. That’s because they will be building something that doesn’t already exist and will be going by your diagrams, charts and hand-written notes for direction.

There Is A Much Easier Way

You’ve heard of 3D printing, right? You’ve probably seen it in the movies and for some reason it tends to be used for purposes other than aiding an inventor in filing for a patent. Regardless, even if you thought 3D printing was the work of some creative science fiction novelists, it is a real thing. Where 3D printing excels the most is that it is the most cost-effective way to produce a prototype of any kind of object. Not everyone can imagine how something works or looks without being able to hold one in their hands and get a real feel for what the product can do. A 3D print gives you this opportunity which would otherwise be a huge expense for a single item off an assembly line somewhere. With a prototype in hand, inventors can pound the street for funding opportunities as well as use the 3D model for more important tasks. They include:

1 – Testing, Testing, Testing

A 3D printed prototype affords you the opportunity to test the performance of your product when it is still in development. This means a faster testing product which can be corrected or altered based on the findings of the testing phase. Being able to actually test a product that isn’t a computer screen rendering can reveal issues that would not normally appear in any other way.

2 – Refining, Redesigning

One essential reason for 3D prototype printing is that with a physical copy available, that refining and redesigning of the item is much easier to complete at this point because it is prior to full production. The redefining stage saves you considerably from having to deal with a bad design manufacturing run that would have to be scrapped at your cost.

3 – Proof Of Use

A 3D printed prototype of your invention allows you to actually prove that your design works and functions as it is intended to. This is important to be able to show long before production tooling is created at a substantial cost. The cool thing about a 3D print is that you can give it a workout, flex it, bend it and do whatever you would expect to have happen to it.

4 – In-House Protection

Sometimes you just want to keep your designs and ideas within a closed circle of people. When you have access to 3D printing of your prototype you keep the design ideas from falling into the wrong hands if you do not use a confidential service or your own printer. There are companies that claim to be confidential but you still need to be sure that this is true.

Does Your Idea Need 3D Printing?

As it turns out, not all product development strategies include the requirement of a 3D prototype. It really depends on the timeline and type of product you are creating. If your product is still in the early development stages, it may benefit from a 3D printed prototype for the reasons listed above. If your product is close to production, a 3D prototype can help solve problems with the design and function of your product before it gets into full production. However, if your idea is for something that does not require a 3D prototype for design refinement or testing, then you don’t need to include this step.

Come To Us For Advice

3D printing can be a daunting and tricky endeavor. There are many companies who provide this service that claim their 3D prints are the best or that theirs is the last stop you will need to make because they offer the perfect solution to your prototyping problems. We are different because we do not need to brag about our skills and abilities simply to get your attention.

We have been working with 3D printing technologies since 1998. It is because of our extensive experience and in depth knowledge of prototyping methods that we can be of service to you. It all starts by you contacting us to discuss your invention idea and your project needs. It is through the relationship we will build with you where we will determine whether or not your product requires a 3D prototype treatment. As we have already stated, not every project requires a 3D print prototype. That does not mean those projects are not worth pursuing, either. To find out how we can be of service to you, call us today at (305) 521-9080.

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