Rapid prototyping with 3D printing is one of the most effective and efficient ways to test, iterate, and ultimately perfect your design concept as you move down the road to production. Prototyping is a critical component of product development, but that doesn’t mean it has to be excessively costly or time-consuming. Rapid prototyping enables you to forego costly tooling and machine setup processes, and make use of 3D printing, which relies simply on the machine and the design file to get up and running.
Amid the excitement of a new product launch — or even earlier in the product development cycle — it’s all too possible for a key step or two to get lost in the shuffle. Unfortunately, skipping even a relatively minor step can create a big hiccup in your launch, and can potentially create problems with your product and sales down the line. Remember, a product launch is much more than just “launch day” itself. The entire process — from concept to manufacturing and distribution — is all part of launching a new product. That’s why it’s key to take advantage of the resources at your disposal, in order to provide as many safeguards as possible against neglecting a critical launch step. As one of those resources, review the product launch checklist:
The injection molding process is one that, although the baseline concept is simple, involves a number of intricate facets and moving parts (both literally and figuratively). The number of settings, calibrations, sub-processes, and choices that can be made or changed — even minimally — can have major effects on the finished product. Those effects include its quality, appearance and the time it takes to make it — among many others. What’s more, each of those aspects plays a part in another major component of a product — its cost and, by extension, its bottom line.
Material selection is a key factor for many aspects of your injection molded part or product. It affects some or all of the following, in most cases: the physical properties of the product, its look, its operation, its interaction with other materials and components, and its durability. On top of all that, material selection can play a big role in your material and production costs, and their subsequent effects on your bottom line. Taking all of those factors into consideration, it’s clear that choosing a material for your injection molded product should not be taken lightly.
Failure of your injection molding part can prove to be one of the most costly production issues that you can encounter. Not only must you absorb the cost of rejected pieces, it’s likely that you’ll also need to adjust the design of your product to be more conducive to the plastic injection molding process. Aside from this additional R&D time and expenditure, this means new tooling costs as well. As the direct costs add up, your time to market is also drawn out longer and longer, creating a double-whammy to your bottom line.
Prototyping is one of the most important steps in the product design and development process, and in many ways, it can be the linchpin of your product cycle. Consider that during the prototyping phase, you are actively bringing your product through from concept to reality — the prototype is what bridges these two bookends. Prototyping is likely when you’ll learn the most about your product, because so many questions will be answered — how does it look and feel in a real 3D form? How easy or difficult was it to produce? Is it structurally sound? Is it feasible to move to production?