3D printed prototypes are increasingly popular for early design verification, it is a great prototyping tool for individual parts and complete products, but it doesn’t tick all boxes.
HLH specializes in prototyping and production manufacturing services. We are a solution provider, so depending on your project requirements we choose the right tools for the job – from a range of services like CNC machining, 3D printing and vacuum casting to rapid tool making and injection molding. What we have learned through our years of experience and 1000’s of projects for clients all around the world is to not put all your prototype eggs in one basket.
We offer 3D printing solutions, and yes, there are times when 3D printed parts will confirm your design. Often though 3D printed parts do not convey enough information back to the designers to verify their design completely, so they are not able to commit to full production tooling. CNC machined parts offer another dimension to the part development process and due to the broader range of materials, provides an added level of confidence that your design will be a success. CNC machining is a great partner to 3D printing for confirming things like compression, torque, resiliency and overall wear and tear of a particular part when used in the real world. CNC machined prototype parts are made from materials very close to the production grades, as such they more closely resemble the characteristics of final injection molded, die-cast or forged production parts.
A common misconception with CNC machining is it is too expensive and time consuming, but that is not necessarily the case. By choosing a CNC shop with capacity (multiple CNCs) allows for multiple parts to be made simultaneously reducing your project timeline. Also it is often cheaper to go directly to CNC prototype parts from the start. “Time is money”, “it’s a small world”, “speed to market”, all clichés that tell the same truth, someone somewhere will beat you to market and steal market share if your project timelines are not met or bettered. Adding CNC machining to your development process gives you a faster and truer verification of your part which leads to confidence when it comes time to commit full production tooling dollars. In the end CNC machining saves you time and money as it steers you away from unknown potential design flaws that if only discovered at the production tooling phase can lead to very costly timing delays and additional funding requirements.
Think of 3D printing as a fast proof of concept option that shows the overall look, feel and fit of your part. Think of CNC machining as a more complete design verification option with real world strength and fatigue testing possible. For your next project consider CNC machining as a partner for your 3D printed parts. Contact HLH at Info@HLHPrototypes.com to get your project started today.