Best Processes for Making Metal Prototypes
Metal prototypes serve a wide array of industries such as the aerospace and electronics industry. Its essential function to increase the chances of a better and improved finished product. The following guide will provide further insight into the importance of metal prototypes. Additionally, it will highlight situations where we prefer metal prototyping over plastic prototyping. It will also cover the different effective methods that we use at Creatingway in producing metal prototypes. So that we can combine several processes and ultimately come up with the best solution for your prototypes demands.
What Is a Metal Prototype?
The world of manufacturing is full of complicated terms. You may be wondering what a metal prototype is. To answer this, try to first picture a prototype as a rough-draft of a mock-up of a part. Prototypes are an important part of the manufacturing process. We normally produce them long before the actual manufacturing commences. It allows our designers to examine, test, and develop the final part. We can make prototypes from a variety of materials depending on the type of manufacturing process we use.
We normally make metal prototypes using metal manufacturing processes. The techniques may include CNC machining, sheet metal forming, or casting. The involved metal materials are namely steel, aluminum, or any other material that our engineering team deems workable. Advanced prototypes sometimes closely mimic the final component. Although metal is a common material for pre-production prototypes, we sometimes use it for early-stage prototypes. Metal offers functional and aesthetic advantages.
Why Choose Metal Prototyping over Plastic Prototyping?
Engineers sometimes create plastic prototypes for parts that will eventually end up being metallic in the material. This may be an option when the material features of a prototype are unimportant. It makes definite sense when you choose to manufacture the prototype with the cheapest option which is plastic. This is the case when the prototype does not have a mechanical or functional role. Characteristics such as ductility, strength, and conductivity are unnecessary in such a scenario.
There are situations when prototypes serve some special functions. This is the case for functional prototypes, pre-production prototypes, and hybrid prototypes. Metal is usually the best option as it offers unique material characteristics. In some cases, even though the prototype is non-functional, the use of metal is still of some benefit. Look-a-like prototypes that function to demonstrate a concept have a better visual appeal when metallic. This is especially the case if the component will end-up being metallic during mass production.
What’re The Advantages?
- Better functional/mechanical performance
- Improved and accurate testing
- Improved aesthetics
- Increased appeal to investors and potential clients
- Easier to proceed to mass production
What Are the Best Techniques to Use in Manufacturing Metal Prototypes?
We determine the process to use in manufacturing metal prototypes depending on several factors. Some of the factors include prototype geometry, size, and tolerance. Determining the best method to use assists in achieving the best mechanical result and minimizing the cost of production. Hence, here are a few common techniques we use in determining
Metal Machining Prototypes
CNC machining is a considerably cheap way of manufacturing metal prototypes. It utilizes a computer program that instructs a metal cutting tool. It serves to precisely metal sections from a metal block. Since we can easily alter digital CAD designs in between, machining is a critical prototyping tool. This results in an efficient workflow system. Additionally, we can easily distribute designs to other parties and make duplicates. A wide array of metal materials is compatible with this process. There are specific grades of aluminum that provide the most appropriate combination of machinability and value.
3D Printing Metal Prototypes
3D printing is another considerably affordable option when it comes to manufacturing metal prototypes. The specific technologies we use in metal prototype printing include selective laser melting and direct metal laser sintering. It utilizes input from digital designs like CNC machining which allows for quick design alterations. Its major advantage over CNC machining is it has geometrical flexibility. We can print metal prototypes that have complex geometrical features. This is because it is built layer by layer rather than chipping away from a solid block. It, however, has a less impressive metal finish.
Sheet Metal Prototypes
Sheet metal fabrication essentially involves the cutting deformation and assembly of metal sheets. The process is ideal in the manufacture of industrial components, enclosures, and brackets. It is worthwhile to produce functional metal prototypes utilizing the same metal sheet processes as we normally use during production. They are sure to be of high quality and durable. The involved sheet metal forming processes include punching, bending, laser cutting, welding, and spinning.
Creatingway has proudly built up a steady supply chain for a variety of manufacturing processes. Therefore, if you have any inquiries or orders regarding your rapid prototypes, simply contact us.
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