The purpose of a prototype is to take an abstract idea that is on paper or in a computer and turn it into a hands-on product. When you build a sample it becomes much easier to find the design flaws, test the functionality and make changes that would otherwise not have been found. If you skip this step then you end up with a large number of products that have errors and now must be re-done or risk a recall if it goes to market.
There are several different methods that can be used in prototyping and multiple factors play a part in making the final decision on which technique to choose. However, molds are a common tool because they can be created quickly according to the design, filled with the appropriate material and then finished for the customer to approve. It is important to ensure that this process occurs at a rapid pace so that the customer can make critical decisions and move toward the final production phase.
There are at least two material options to select when building the sample mold which are aluminum and steel and companies look at the positives and negatives of using either one. Steel is a tough metal and can withstand a lot of pressure but it takes longer to cut and shape into a mold so this may eat into that quick turnaround time frame.
Aluminum is not as durable but if you are only using the mold for prototypes then you don’t need to use something as tough as steel. It can be quickly cut and is highly reliable for building molds of all different shapes and sizes. These characteristics make aluminum one of the top choices in the manufacturing world of prototyping because it is both cost and time effective.
Individual companies have to make the decision that is best for them and their customers but it is important to ensure that quality of the product and the service are never sacrificed in the process. As a business owner seeking aluminum prototyping it helps to have a general understanding of these businesses work so you can ask the right questions and make sure that you are working with a reliable vendor.