The time it takes to develop a new product from design to manufacturing is critical in an on-demand world. This is especially true in the design phase. Traditionally, a model is designed and the assembly of a prototype is outsourced to a third party – often located overseas. This method is time consuming and costly. As a result, more manufacturers are turning to in-house rapid prototyping, such as using a 3D printer to construct a model.
Here are seven reasons why the same approach should be considered.
1. Faster turn-around time
Traditional outsourcing can take a week or more for a prototype to arrive due to transit time. In addition, internal development can cause more lag. Due to the time and expense involved, companies hesitate to request a prototype until they have something close to a finished model. Time and expense are less of an issue for in-house prototyping, as a physical model can be built on-site the same day. This can significantly reduce the timeline of overall development.
2. Reduced errors
In addition to speeding up development, more frequent prototyping can also reduce costly errors that would arise from incorrect tooling. This reduces errors that would then become apparent in costly dies and molds that produce parts that do not fit together.
For example, when fitting a flange into a receptacle, making a mold to produce a prototype can reveal that the flange is slightly too large to fit. Re-making the mold to correct the problem is expensive so it is often not done. This is not necessary with rapid prototyping, as multiple revisions can be made within each iteration without the need to make a mold. Errors are reduced with this iterative process, and design changes are not compromised due to incorrect prototype dimensions.
3. Productivity Gains
Prototyping in-house reduces the lag time caused by waiting for prototypes to come back from a supplier, putting development at a standstill. This time is virtually eliminated when prototypes can be made on-site the same day, resulting in a more productive, cost effective development team.
4. Cost Savings
The investment needed to perform outsourced prototyping is reduced by eliminating shipping and equipment costs when prototyping is performed on-site. Every instance when rapid prototyping can be done as opposed to outsourced prototyping will increase savings. By cutting out the vendor profit margin and shipping costs, more is saved as well.
5. Increased innovation
When faced with the costs and time lag of outsourcing, the most likely design is chosen to be made rather than creating various prototypes for a product. However, with in-house rapid prototyping, you are able to produce multiple prototypes with various features and iterations. This means hundreds of options can be tried in the time it would take for an outsourced prototype to come back from the vendor; Innovation is encouraged and the final piece is ensured to be the most appropriate design for your project.
6. Better Security
Containing the prototyping process in-house means valuable designs are not sent to a third party who may or may not have the same security protocols in place. Maintaining control of the prototyping process from start to finish guards against piracy. Otherwise, the development of a new product could be undermined with plans being leaked by an insecure party.
7. Future Proofing
Advances in rapid prototyping technology have increased the scope of what can be done compared to a few years ago. Innovative designs can now be produced with various materials and colors at a fraction of former costs. The versatility to introduce exciting new products can be taken advantage of with in-house, rapid prototyping. Producing prototypes in-house eliminates time and cost issues related to outsourcing while keeping products at the forefront of the industry.
The transition to in-house, rapid prototyping is dramatically reducing the need for third party outsourcing and is increasing the effectiveness of product development teams. How are you handling the prototyping process? Have you considered bringing the process in-house?