When making prototypes, you should be clear about what you want to do with it - what you want to achieve is crucial for how to make the prototype. As it is time consuming and often relatively expensive (depending on what it is). You can live by the rule "do not shoot sparrows with a cannon" and do what we call MVP (Minimum Viable Product) whose purpose may only be to check a function on a part - a shape - or an assembly.
Here are different starting points for how to make prototypes
- Sketch models that are prototypes that show design ideas.
- Function models are prototypes that demonstrate the function.
- Appearance models are made to show the external design as the product should look - without the model necessarily functioning as the finished product.
- 0-series is a prototype where all components are the same as the product, the difference is typically that components are made without industrial production tools. Other methods may then have been used to produce a minimal number of units needed in a test phase.
There are several different methods to make prototype parts
Based on the production process, a distinction is made between the following:
- Handmade prototypes.
- Machined prototypes. (CNC machining)
- Prototypes created using additive processes such as Rapid Prototyping and 3D printing
- Prototypes made using simple casting tools. It can be, for example
- Vacuum forming
- Silicone molds
- Simple aluminum molds
- Sample form
(Typically uses an existing mold base and makes simple cavities to test material types).
Which method you have to choose depends on what the product is and what you want to test. If, for example, you are going to make parts that have functions as in these components, there are very few prototyping materials that can handle the toughness the material must have to get the function you really want - then the choice may be to make a test form.
One of the most exciting and cost effective methods besides 3D printing is silicone molds. Then you make a mold in silicone and can cast several items. It pays if you typically need 20-30 topics. At Pavels Innovation AS, such a mold that is depicted typically costs 6000-8000 kroner - (depending on size) there is also a course price depending on the size of everything from a few tens to a few hundred bucks.
If you need to make several items and in materials with special properties, you can make a sample shape. The practice then is that the toolmaker already has many different shape bases. You then "borrow" a mold base and only make the cavity itself inside the tool in a reasonable steel or aluminum quality (Cavity and Core). The advantage is that then you can cast real products. (Product) without making the ENTIRE tool with all the other parts. This method presupposes that you, as Pavels Innovation AS - have access to many different form bases. However, this is not always the case.
The most requested method is 3D printing, when customers who contact us are to make prototypes. But this is mainly due to the fact that you do not always know what other possibilities or limitations you have. 3D printing is a fantastic opportunity in very many respects. However, when creating a prototype, it is therefore important to understand the purpose of the prototype and what alternative methods are possible, before getting started.
There are various methods in 3D printing. Protofab is co-located with Pavels Innovation AS and Grepi Plast AS - All these companies are organized under Mezonic, which is a common market channel for our operations in Scandinavia.
Below are typical time courses in relation to which methods are used.