In the automotive industry, prototyping is a key component of the ongoing design and development process. Automotive prototype development is equally as useful for large-scale automotive manufacturers working on design and configuration for new models, or seeking more efficient methods of production, as it is for smaller firms and entrepreneurs creating automotive components, modifications and accessories.
As an automotive prototyping company, RevPart is pleased to offer our range of prototyping services to assist any type and size of automotive company in its part and product development process. With capabilities and expertise to facilitate every step — from automotive prototype development to production — we focus on helping automotive manufacturers get their products to market fast, efficiently and with exceptional quality.
What Is Automotive Prototyping?
Prototyping for the automotive industry covers many applications, products and purposes. In general, automotive prototype development covers these three main areas:
- Production components:
These comprise the original, factory construction of an automobile as it rolls off the assembly line — ranging from parts as large as the chassis to components as small as PCBs and internal electronics housings.
- Replacement parts:
Typically produced by a third party, these are components sold for repair or standard maintenance replacement.
- Accessories and add-ons:
These are third-party products sold to enhance the appearance, performance or other aspects of an automobile.
As OEMs and third-party manufacturers develop these products, prototyping plays a key role in development and testing, for several reasons:
Not only do newly developed parts and components need to be tested and iterated in design to perfect their functionality, but they also need to be tested once design is finalized, to ensure that the final design is sound.
Parts as designed on paper or even in 3D modeling software are not always able to be manufactured exactly to those specs. The realities of physics and other aspects of the manufacturing process mean that testing for manufacturability is critical. Prototyping for this application may include iterating for wall thickness, wall angle, corner roundness, gaps or other hollow areas, and more.
The prototyping process can more than pay back the time and money spent on it when engineers use it to zero in on more efficient ways to produce the part. Can any areas of the part be omitted? Can a more cost-effective material be used instead — with no sacrifice in quality or functionality? Can a machine be programmed to create a certain geometry more quickly? These questions, and more, can and should be asked and answered during the automotive prototyping process.
What Automotive Prototyping Services Does RevPart Offer?
With stereolithography (SLA) and selective laser sintering (SLS) capabilities, we offer a wide range of materials to suit the requirements of your prototype. In fact, many materials available for these processes can closely approximate the properties of final production metals and materials, making your 3D printed prototype suitable for field testing for strength, environmental resistance and other important factors. Our easy online STL drawing submission and quoting process means that it’s simpler to get a 3D printed prototype from RevPart than from anywhere else.
Many other shops will tell you that prototyping through a subtractive process isn’t possible. They’ll tell you that it’s too costly and time consuming, and the minimum production run will likely make it not worth your time and investment. At RevPart, we specialize in prototyping via whichever process will suit the needs of our customers, including CNC machining. Our in-house personnel are ready to take your design and create a prototype exactly as it would be manufactured in a large-scale production run, whether you need to test for design, manufacturability, field strength or any other property.
Like CNC machining, prototyping through injection molding is often rejected by other shops. RevPart is ready to take your design, work with you to create a tooling prototype, and produce your parts in one-off or very short runs for prototyping and iterative purposes. We often combine our 3D printing services with our injection molding capabilities to create cost-effective molds that are strong enough to meet your prototyping needs (and can often be re-used for low- to medium-quantity production runs), yet inexpensive enough to stay within your budget.
Why Is Automotive Prototyping Important?
For these reasons, prototyping in the production process is more important than ever. To compete, manufacturers and entrepreneurs must be lean and nimble in their development and production processes, and prototyping can assist in both areas. Here’s how:
- Fast, cost-effective iterating:
In developing new products, components and methods of production, testing and fine-tuning are hugely important. With fast and easily accessible prototyping, engineers can refine their designs more quickly than ever, allowing greater freedom in their concepts, and an overall faster time to production and market.
- Improved quality testing:
When testing for functionality and safety, prototyping plays a major role, along with the quality assurance process in the production stage. With cost-effective prototyping, product developers can easily carry out comprehensive quality testing at this earlier stage as well, reducing the chance of error when it’s time for production.
- Greater production efficiency:
By prototyping with a “360” philosophy, looking at every area of a product — including the manufacturing stage — engineers can more easily discover and eliminate areas of inefficiency in design and production, creating a more cost-effective overall process and adding those savings to the bottom line, while passing them along to consumers.