“The beauty of a prototype is that nothing is set in stone. When you create something designed to be scrutinized, you’re free to experiment with concepts to find the real crowd-pleaser.”
Rapid prototyping refers to techniques that designers and engineers use to make scale models of parts or objects. The most common method for making these prototypes is 3-D printing, which is controlled with CAD programs and other specialized software. CNC mills are another example of 3-D cutting machines commonly used to produce prototypes.
The benefits of rapid prototyping are game changing for a number of industries. By making a prototype, designers and engineers can test out a product’s appearance, quality and function without spending money on tooling. If something goes awry in testing, companies can use digital files of that part to make quick changes before simply printing the part again.
The applications of rapid prototyping methods like 3-D printing are innumerable. Rapid prototyping is being embraced by creators everywhere, from aerospace engineers to guitar makers to architects. Biomedical engineering companies rely heavily on prototyping to cut costs while designing and engineering products, and medical schools and training facilities use printed organ models to train surgeons and other professionals. Some products can be printed from less expensive materials for testing stages, which significantly reduces R and D costs, especially for experimental designs that require several test iterations. An additional perk is that digital files of parts can be easily stored, eliminating the need for large warehouses that house “legacy data” parts for future reference.
As an active player in the automotive industry, JVIS uses rapid prototyping to save time and money and make room for innovation. Using 3-D printing, CNC mills, vacuum casting, RIMM injection molding and more, we can rapidly produce parts so our clients can get the exact design and function they want before confidently moving forward with full-scale production. Rapid prototyping can turn a monthlong tooling project into a few days’ work, and some parts can be made in mere hours.
JVIS sees major savings as well: A rapid prototype bumper might cost $25,000 to make and would allow engineers to test function before tooling. In contrast, it could cost $500,000 to produce a tool for that bumper, and any required changes would delay processes and cost thousands more.
JVIS’ rapid prototyping services are set apart from competitors’ by the materials being cut and molded. Instead of using materials that only resemble a production part, which is a common practice, we use authentic production materials so testing is as accurate as possible. We’ve even begun using two types of materials in parts that would be tooled that way, which provides the truest representation possible of those complex components. JVIS can also reverse-engineer a product by scanning it or making a mold, allowing limited production of parts that are difficult to find or expensive to obtain. If desired, we tweak existing components and then rapidly produce a corresponding prototype of a potentially more effective product.
A JVIS product that notably benefitting from rapid prototyping processes was Identilock, a biometric fingerprint-scanning trigger lock for guns. Before moving Identilock to production, we performed several rounds of rapid prototyping with our methods. This allowed us to bring the product to market much faster than we would have otherwise been able to, and we saved the client money. Now Identilock is sold widely at gun and sports stores, including Cabela’s.
Learn more about JVIS USA’s innovation across several industries.