Nice Design, What Does It Feel Like? by Kevin Q.

by Kevin Quach

So you’ve finally got your masterpiece finished, or perhaps not so much a masterpiece, but rather the tedious design the company needed.  Everything works, you’ve checked the tolerances, everything has been virtually tested, and the design is flawless.  Now comes the challenge of explaining it to someone who may not have as intricate understanding of your design as you do.  You may end up getting questions like,

  • “But how big is it?”
  • “How does this work?”
  • “Are you sure it will be the right size?”

This piece was created from a Stratasys 3D printer. The spring itself actually recoils due to the high durability of the material used.

Sounds frustrating, especially when some people like to feel a design in their hands before they can piece everything together. And that’s where Rapid Prototyping (RP) takes over. RP isn’t so much just a 3D part. Engineers, Designers, and Manufacturers are finding that RP helps them test several critical factors:

Fit – Making sure your part fits correctly in the dimensions you’ve created it in. Not everything will be a simple square box that can be dropped in. Most designers are working with complex shapes that may be fitting into another complex part. Your tolerances may be accurate, but nothing beats knowing that it fits like a glove.

Form – For the spatially challenged (such as myself) I find it much easier to actually hold the part in my hand. Form allows the people you’re communicating with to feel your design and visually see it in a real non-virtual world. A lot of times this can help you bridge that space between concept and reality. In some cases, feeling that design can make the sale.

Function – Does it work? That new part you made sure looks shiny and intricate, but does it actually work? While everything makes sense to you, the designer, others who look upon it may be completely lost upon the complexity of how everything comes together from your drawings. But if they can actually move the parts themselves, or have everything working at their fingertips, the awesomeness of your design speaks for itself.

Perhaps at this point many of you may already be using 3D printing by outsourcing it.  Most users don’t realize that the amount they pay for RP work is actually GREATER than the amount they would pay monthly to just finance or lease one in house. That’s simple math, financing one in house is actually cheaper than just having a part printed. So what’s keeping your company from getting this powerful addition to your company?

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