Which Prototype Manufacturing Method Should I Use?

Selecting the Appropriate Prototype Manufacturing Method

Finding the right prototype manufacturing method is important to be sure your prototype provides the right critical attributes for verification. Pre-compliance testing of prototype parts may include checking geometric dimensions as well as form, fit, function, surface options and specific customer validation criteria. While some companies offer 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, to produce prototype parts, in many cases this is not suitable for testing the functionality and manufacturability of the product.

CNC machining and injection molding are typically required to manufacture prototype parts that meet the needs of the project. Both CNC machining and injection molding produce prototype parts that yield significantly more useful data for testing conformance characteristics as well as manufacturability. Both of these methods are also useful to spread out the cost of manufacturing prototypes over additional production requirements.

CNC Machining of Prototype Parts

CNC machining is a widely used prototype manufacturing method that offers rapid production with competitive pricing. CNC milling with 3-axis or 5-axis milling processes in either aluminum or steel provide a prototype suitable for testing product conformance. EDM wire and sinking processes as well as surface grinding allow skilled machinists to produce various solutions to complex project requirements.

Injection Molding with Bridge Tooling

When producing a prototype of a part that will be injection molded for production requirements, it is most beneficial to develop a prototype soft mold or to utilize bridge tooling for product conformance testing. Aluminum molds may be developed rapidly for manufacturing low-volume prototype parts and provide accurate testing of part design, moldability and manufacturability.

Bridge tooling is another solution for prototype manufacturing which incorporates a hybrid solution with a P-20 steel mold. This allows companies and OEMs to take their product to market quickly with quality, low-volume prototype part production during the construction of high volume production molds. Rapid prototyping gives many companies the competitive edge they need with first to market products.

Manufacturing prototype parts that meet all our conformance, functionality and manufacturability criteria provides the most advantages with a quicker route to production and significant cost savings.

QT Manufacturing Offers Prototype Manufacturing Solutions

QT Manufacturing assists our clients in determining the best method to manufacture prototype products. We bring your ideas from concept to reality with various prototype solutions available. Our skilled staff includes master toolmakers and machinists experienced in part and tool design to meet rapid prototyping requirements with project production needs in mind.

Our prototype solutions includes:

  • Prototype soft molds
  • Bridge tooling
  • CNC machining and milling

QT Manufacturing offers the unique capabilities of an in-house tool design and construction facility combined with injection molding and precision CNC machine shop services.

QT Manufacturing is a valuable supplier to many industries including automotive, aerospace, fiber optics, electronics and more.  We are certified to ISO9001:2015 and AS9100 rev D, following a strict quality policy with a focus on continual improvement and quick, on time delivery. Contact us for assistance in selecting the best prototype manufacturing method for your project.