Home Insights & Advice Prototype machining: Control over production and greater flexibility

Prototype machining: Control over production and greater flexibility

by John Saunders
27th Aug 21 1:46 pm

Prototype Machining is becoming a critical part of the product development process for many manufacturers. However, it’s often the case that prototypes are either not designed to specifications or they are designed to look like a finished product but are quite different. It’s at this point that Prototype Machining professionals should consider hiring a custom CNC machine to solve the problem. There are several advantages to using a CNC machine to manufacture prototypes.

These include:

Production process

To determine if a prototype machining solution is appropriate, a manufacturer must carefully examine the overall production process and look at the company’s budget. If the CNC machines are used only for prototype machining purposes, then this isn’t a problem, as the process can be completed without significant expense. However, production process prototypes need to be tested for quality and accuracy before incorporating into the production process. This means that CNC Machining Service should be used throughout the entire production process to eliminate variability.

Prototyping

When CNC machining is used for rapid prototyping in the industry, it is necessary to provide excellent service and a great product to satisfy the customer. In addition to ensuring quality, these types of services will also drive revenue. With rapid prototyping, changes can be made to prototypes that are tested on a particular piece of material without having to wait until the production process begins. In other words, CNC machines are perfect for this type of testing.

Strong plastic parts

For many years, plastic parts have been considered one of the most difficult to work with. Engineers had to develop special techniques to create smooth surfaces and strong parts. Today, the tools used for this process have advanced considerably, thanks in large part to CNC machining engineers. Instead of spending years mastering the tools needed for this process, it makes sense to simply hire an engineer who is qualified to perform the job. This ensures that the new techniques and technologies introduced into the market will be available to engineers very quickly. In addition to ensuring that all engineers are skilled and experienced, this also ensures that you are getting a top-notch product at a fair price.

Material

One of the biggest problems faced by most engineers looking to utilise CNC machining is the material they must use to create functional prototypes. Typically, engineers are required to use either steel or aluminium to construct the parts they want to test. However, durable, lightweight materials such as graphite or nylon are now available for functional prototype CNC machining.

Type of moulding

While engineers are designing the final product, they will also need to determine what kind of moulding will be best for their needs. This is because the type of moulding they will require will largely determine the strength and durability of their final product. Typically, engineers will choose a material that is lighter weight and/or stronger than the final product to prevent excessive stress during machining. Oftentimes, engineers will have to experiment with various types of moulding until they find the one that works best for their needs. Once they have found a mould that works, the engineers can then start working on the physical prototype.

Rapid tooling

As soon as an engineer has finalised the physical prototype, it is time to move onto the second phase of their process. This is known as rapid tooling. This step involves a huge array of different processes that are used to create the final product. Often, this is the most challenging part of the entire process as engineers must decide what materials to use, how to apply them, and how to automate the entire process. Rapid tooling is necessary to have a product that meets all of the required standards and specifications quickly. This is why engineers will often employ computer numerical control (CNC) programs such as CAM software to help them in their rapid tooling phase.

Final stage

Many times, prototypes will need to undergo several different machining operations to get them to the final stage. The process of designing, conceptualising, and finally implementing all of these steps is referred to as the prototyping phase. In most cases, the prototype CNC machining job will simply be a proof of concept that will help engineers gain a better understanding of what they are trying to create. After this initial prototype has been created, engineers will then move onto the second phase which is creating real prototypes using CNC machinery. The next step in this process is to make sure that the prototype is built to high-quality standards and that it meets or exceeds expectations.

 

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