What is rapid prototyping, and why do I care?
There’s a whole lot to that question – let’s dig in.
What is rapid prototyping?
Rapid prototyping is essentially using new technologies to make and improve on an item faster than we could have in any generation before. First and foremost, rapid prototyping via additive manufacturing methods (like 3D printing) is the future. Although we aren’t quite at the level of tech that Back to the Future 2 expected (I would pay a lot of money for an appliance that materialized pizza), in the past few years there have been truly amazing leaps in technology that allow small businesses to deliver high quality, production ready prototypes or small batch manufacturing. This reduces lag time and allows for faster iterations on design, removes or reduces the need for complex molds or tooling, and completely removes dependence on overseas companies.
The difference is like working with a partner on a project in school, a nightmare we all probably continue to have. You now have the choice of handing off your work to your classmate and hoping that they get it done in time (they never do), OR you can do your part and pass it to a partner sitting right next to you, who works with you every step of the way to make sure you’re delivering exactly what you want. By partnering with Custom Made Fast, we get involved as early as possible and can help with principles like design for manufacturing (where we optimize the items created so they can be produced faster), simulation, and generative design. We then stick with you all the way until the successful launch of your project. Don’t live with the barriers of miscommunication when we can remove barriers entirely.
How does rapid prototyping affect me?
It allows for better products to release faster. To truly answer the question, we need to get into specifics and go for an example. The typical product creation cycle used around the world looks something like this:
- Identify a need and make specifications.
- Design a solution in a CAD software.
- Send designs to an existing partner with manufacturing capabilities, typically overseas. Shipment to China from the United States takes about two weeks via ship.
- The partner would need to create molds or prepare standard industrial machines like 5-axis CNCs for product production.
- A batch of prototypes would be sent back for analysis. Another two weeks in the Pacific.
- Engineers would receive the prototypes, find flaws, and create better, revised versions.
- Repeat step 3 to 6 until a product is finalized.
- Begin production.
Taking that flow, let’s run a scenario where three iterations are sent to production, with a week of design for each iteration, the two-week one-way shipping, and a week for prototype production. All said and done, you have spent:
- 3 weeks on design and engineering
- 3 weeks on prototype production
- 12 weeks on shipping and transit
66% of the product creation cycle is simply waiting. Now, let’s run that same scenario with a rapid prototyping setup from a startup like Custom Made Fast. While you’ll still take time for design and prototype production, shipping both ways can be done in a matter of days. If we choose two-day delivery, then three round trips is twelve days, an 85% reduction in wait time. Speed matters, and being the first to market is key – can you really afford the time delay when your business is on the line?
How do I get started?
That part is easy – just reach out with your idea or requirements and we’ll get in touch!