Plastic Prototyping: How and Why

If you’re going to invest in a new product, it’s important to invest in the creation of a prototype as well. Otherwise, you may find a design flaw later in the process, increasing costs. Using plastic to develop your prototype is especially cost efficient and beneficial.

Why Prototyping?

Prototyping gives you a chance to find potential design flaws without the commitment of mass production. It also gives you a glimpse of the production process. Can anything be modified to make the production process more cost and time-efficient? What would be the best method to mass produce the product? You can also conduct more in-depth consumer research, since potential consumers can look at the prototype and provide you with valuable insights. By testing the design in advance, prototyping gives engineers flexibility to improve and make changes.

Plastic Mold Modeling

Plastic mold modeling is a more traditional way of making plastic prototypes. Molten plastic is injected into a pre-designed mold, and the plastic hardens to adopt the shape.

Here are some of the benefits of plastic mold modeling:

  • Time Effectiveness: If you are creating prototypes en masse (100+ parts), it is more convenient and time-efficient to use mold modeling prototyping.
  • Cost Eeductions: Injection molding is cost-effective, especially if you are considering high volume production.
  • Weight Reduction: Plastic prototypes are lighter especially compared to metal prototypes.
  • High Quality: Rapid prototypes are often not finished parts. You can create high quality, fully functioning prototypes with mold modeling.
  • Color: Plastics can be molded in colors.

Plastic Rapid Prototyping

Plastic rapid prototyping or 3D printing is relatively new compared to injection molding. While there are many different 3D printers and printing technologies, Fused Deposition Modeling or FDM printing is the most common method. Unlike the injection molding process, one drop of molten plastic is added at a time during FDM printing.

Rapid prototyping offers benefits such as:

  • Low cost: If you are creating only a few parts (1-10 parts), use 3D printing. Unlike injection molding, 3D printing does not require costly mold tools or cavity designs.
  • Time effectiveness: Even if you are creating your prototype from scratch, 3D printing makes your prototyping experience extremely fast and painless. Simply design your prototype using an integrated software/hardware package before sending to a printer.
  • Innovative: 3D printing is rapidly improving and so is rapid prototyping. You have various options when it comes to different printers and technologies.

Depending on what you want to get out of the prototyping process, one method may work better than the other. At Aztec Plastic, we have knowledge and experience with a variety of prototyping methods, and are happy to guide you through the process to ensure quality plastic prototypes.

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