What to Include for a Successful Prototype OrderPatrick Newman
At TekRex, one of our core competencies is leveraging our decades of design experience to create top of the line prototypes. Regardless of whether your prototype is incredibly complex or more straightforward, we’ve developed a questionnaire that breaks down the critical things we must know in order to deliver the best prototype in the most efficient way possible. In this article we’ll break down the reasons behind the questions in the questionnaire so when the time comes to start ordering prototypes, you’ll be prepared.
Our staff has experience in a variety of disciplines from electrical and mechanical engineering to product design, and can plug into any existing workflow, but knowing exactly where we fit in ensures a smooth and efficient design process for everyone.
To start, we’ll need to know the basics like the quantity and expected turnaround time you will need. Understanding your requirements allows us to properly assess what resources we need to allocate to your project to make sure it gets done on time. A large component of deciding what it will take to properly create your prototype also comes down to the type of project your product represents.
Prototype project types tend to fit into three categories: jigs and fixtures, new products, and recreations of existing parts. Each type of project requires certain areas of expertise that may be unique to your situation. For example, reverse engineering or recreation could benefit from our 3D scanning services, whereas a jig or fixture may not.
The last early stage consideration to make is the scope of work required. Our staff has experience in a variety of disciplines from electrical and mechanical engineering to product design and can plug into any existing workflow. Knowing exactly where we fit in ensures a smooth and efficient design process for everyone.
What to Include and Explain
Once the project has been defined, it’s time to start filling in the specifics. Including any available drawings, spec sheets, and photos have the potential to save a lot of time and money. If the requested prototype is a jig, fixture, or component for a larger system, having the surrounding pieces to measure and work with creates a much more efficient workflow, especially on projects with low-tolerance fits.
Additive manufacturing has quickly become the preferred method of making prototypes due to its speed and cost effectiveness.
This part of the process is also a good time to highlight the critical features of the prototype. We’re constantly looking for ways to optimize your design and if we know which features are critical, we can focus there and suggest modifications to accentuate those features.
Additive manufacturing has quickly become the preferred method of making prototypes due to its speed and cost effectiveness. A further benefit to this form of prototyping is an ever-expanding variety of materials to choose from. If you don’t already have a target material in mind, we can help walk through your unique use case to choose the best material for the job.
One of the most important distinctions to make is if the product will primarily see indoor or outdoor use. From there we will need to further determine if the materials we are using will need to be heat or UV-resistant. Knowing what temperatures your product will operate in is especially important for low-tolerance builds, since heat can cause potential part deformations.
Your use case will also determine what mechanical properties you should look for. Luckily for us, our sister company Austin Reliability Labs can run a battery of tests on both sample material “dog bones” or the prototype itself to see if it’s up to spec.
Aesthetics can be an important final consideration, namely when there’s a color that we should be trying to match. We also pride ourselves on incorporating Design for Manufacturing (DFM) thinking into every stage of product development. Because of this, we always check with our clients ahead of time to see if it is appropriate to suggest or implement design decisions for better quality prototypes and lower overall manufacturing costs.
As shown, TekRex stands ready to consider every angle of your prototype to make sure you get a finished product that’s as functional, cost-effective and quickly iterated as possible. If you’d like to speak with our team more about your high fidelity prototyping needs, reach out today!