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Why Rapid Prototype Machining Has a Place in the Industry?

Jack Gordon - May 27, 2020 - 0 comments

Most shops take lots of prototyping projects because they can get lots of benefits from them. They not only lure the possibility of plenty of production work, but they also aim to give employees a better experience.

Some employees who are new in the field of machine shops can see a demonstration of advanced machining production capability while jumpstarting their careers in the process. Others that are more experienced with the area will have plenty of opportunities to learn new aspects of machinery that will continue to interest them.

Some shops are out applying techniques such as laminated resin printing, selective laser sintering, 3D printing, reliable ground curing, and a lot more.

The machine shops are not only in the market to serve new and existing clients, but they also aim to create the best parts possible with greater precision. If you ask several shop owners, how much are they still receiving projects for CAD, then you may get the answer to “a little next to nothing.”

This is the case with many shop owners in some states of the USA say that they don’t have much to pocket after manufacturing a prototype part. But when you consider first parts created on many prototype machine shops, you will still wonder why they are again doing the hard labor. Many shops today turn down prototyping projects because of the work’s complexity and the materials used. But some owners are still finding value on a single prototype part than the nickels coming in.

Why Machine Shops Still Continue with the Production?


A typical shop will do CAD or CNC prototypes because it is usually the first in line on how they can win a deal. If the part reaches the production stage, the streams of income can be unlimited, and the work will be worth it.

But some owners view the prototyping work not only as a bait for more projects and product work, but the project can also serve as continued education for the workers. There are also times when existing customers can get into the wow factor of producing single parts based on the design that they have in mind, and this can translate to additional work with the existing clients.

With the blend of prototyping work and production machining, this requires a sophisticated workforce, flexibilities of employees, a business-savvy approach, and a piece of state-of-the-art equipment that can produce lots of parts in the fastest time possible. If the shop is more than capable enough to do the project, then there can be an influx of customers getting their services and a promise of more projects to come.

Why Do Prototype?

Many business owners capitalize on prototype jobs in several ways. The first one is that the projects keep the workers thrilled and interested in their daily tasks. Most owners reported that they see the excitement on their employees’ part when they knew that a component that they are working on is a part of a rocket that will be launched into space in a few weeks.

Most of the on-the-job trainees also get to experience the ways of rapid prototyping. This is very helpful as many owners don’t want to get into specifics in hiring a person with a CAD degree. Although an engineering degree is essential, a person with a willingness to learn, and a right attitude can already be considered a candidate. Some candidates don’t have backgrounds in metalwork that gets accepted to the job since they will be getting the first-hand experience on how the processes work.

An example of a complicated job that pushed employees to think outside of the box is the following: A company wanted to have a semiconductor that is about 1/16-inch thick, 12 inches in diameter, and it should have lots of holes. The outer diameter should have a rectangular tab on it. As with any other semiconductor projects that end up getting sandwiched together, the surfaces should be parallel with a space of a ten-thousandth of an inch. You can read more about semiconductors on this site here.

With a good shop, the work was accepted, and the owner thought of ways on how they can produce this specification for the semiconductor. Someone thought that they could use the vacuum work holder, but they should ensure that the plates are perfectly flat. They might even use the help of pins for securing the plate.

The employees thought that even if the job is not going to find its way into production, the project may still be worth it. The hard work that they pour into this will exercise their minds, especially if they come up with a finished part that has a near similar configuration.

Customers Like to Deal with Trustworthy Shops

When they demonstrated the willingness to tackle the project, they immediately attracted lots of customers in the market. These shops are successful because they stick to customers when the going gets tough. Their customers also stick with them until the project comes to fruition.

Although these kinds of work are on their experimental stage and there’s a small chance that they would see the light of day, most shops still do it so that their key clients will favor them more. This is a solid foundation built for a lasting relationship that every machinery shop should emulate.

Of course, not all business owners are altruistic. They have a business to run and employees to pay. But there’s always the possibility of producing a near-perfect prototype that their customers will love. The education and experience that the employees gain with each new project will pave their way to becoming successful in their future work.

A successful prototyping project paves the way to more work and the possibility of producing the machine component for years to come. This is why shops that do prototyping projects have still a big place in the industry. The knowledge gained from the tooling, setup, and machine parameters can translate into quicker delivery and improved products.

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