Some Key Ideas about Prototyping Design



Posted on:  Jan 2nd, 2018, | By Tony, WayKen Project Manager

Prototyping can be counted as the lost art of industrial design. As new technologies and tools constantly update, the workflow of industrial designers also has been evolving towards a more simple way. What’s more, a lot of software is available for designing purposes nowadays which are easy to use and have a better interface as compared to old software. Thus, isn’t a dream to create a perfect prototyping design in the product development phases.

What Is Prototyping Design?

The design process is the basic process in the development of the product. The product development process starts with the prototyping design, prototype development, and then the product is developed at the end. The designed prototype is used to evaluate and test the product by the system analyst and to improve the product in equally fashioned time.

The design of the product could be anything from a simple part file to models of complex assembled parts. It can easily be converted into the drawing sheet showing the top, side, and front views of the product along with their dimensions. This design is then converted into a physical prototype which is time-saving and also attracts a lot of customers due to its aesthetics as a result of modern rapid prototyping techniques used.

Product Development Phases

The manufacturers usually follow the industrial design prototyping steps in order to ensure that the company produces efficient and successful products as bellows:

product development phase

1.Opportunity Identification

First of all the manufacturer observes the market and determines the need for the new product. The identified opportunity is then researched and evaluated. The customers are involved in this phase and understanding is developed that how the customers want to solve the existing problem in the industrial design process. Thus, a conceptual design of the product is made in the mind which is to be developed into the product.

2.Prototyping Design

In this phase, the prototype to be produced is designed on some software. The months of brainstorming are now transformed into a visual design. It is one of the most important steps in the product development phases. The prototyping design enables the manufacturer to modify the dimension accords to need without spending money in the manufacturing phases. This CAD model is saved in AMF or STL format for the prototype development for 3D printing. Generally, the model is saved in STL format which CAD file format for rapid prototyping that stores data based on triangulations of CAD models. But this format used to save the file in a large number of lattice structures which produce errors.

But the new software introduced stores the file in Additive Manufacturing File Format (AMF) that produces a lesser number of errors. For the manufactures of products on CNC machines, the CAD model is converted into manufacturing directives using CAM software. The transformation of directives into G-codes and M-codes enables the machine to produce a highly accurate physical prototype. The new software has a user-friendly interface which makes it easy for domestic as well as industrial users to model a 3D model of the product.

Prototyping design-automotive

3.Prototype Development

In the prototype development process, the conceptual design is converted into a physical prototype. It is usually made to evaluate and test a design by the system analysts. A physical prototype can be anything from a simple handmade model to a fully operational model representing how the conceptual design will correspond to real-world conditions. Prototyping has been eased nowadays by the introduction of various rapid prototyping techniques these days.

There are 3D printers and other additive manufacturing techniques that enable the manufacturers to develop a number of prototypes in a shorter period which are accurate and cost-effective. The development of the prototype enables the manufacturer to evaluate and test the design, if any amendments are supposed to be made the manufacturer makes them in the design before entering into the product development phase.

Moreover, manufacturing complexities could arise. So any manufacturing operation can be edited or removed. This makes the production costs minimum. And enables the manufacturer to choose the optimal method for the development of a product that will cost him the least and will produce error-free and accurate products.

4.Deployment and Testing

After the development of the prototype and selection of optimal manufacturing process, the company finally enters into the final product development stage. Many rapid manufacturing techniques are available nowadays for the mass production of the product in a shorter period. The modern integrated manufacturing techniques such as CNC which involves the use of computers for tasks like drilling, boring, cutting operations serve as a favorable option for both prototyping and manufacturing of the actual products in a shorter time. Modern CNC machines being employed are using 5-axis machining.

5-axes machining enables the working tool to move along 5 different axes at the same time enabling machining of complex parts with complete efficiency and accuracy. After the manufactures of the product, the most important phase before the launch of the product is its testing in different conditions. The testing enables the manufacturer to determine whether the claims made in front of the customers were valid or not. If the product is tested successfully, it is launched into the market by the employment of different marketing techniques, and its sales are enhanced. On the other hand, if the product fails the prototyping product design is modified and then the product is produced after remodeling.

CNC machine performing drilling

Designing and Manufacturing of Products

The design of the product can be saved in different formats that can be utilized by rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing techniques. Nowadays industries are utilizing these rapid manufacturing techniques to develop a number of products in a shorter period with better aesthetics. Additive manufacturing usually builds the 3D product by adding material layer by layer using the CAD models of the product.

The design for 3D printing is saved in AMF or STL format for the prototype development for 3D printing. Generally, the model is saved in STL format which CAD file format for rapid prototyping that stores data based on triangulations of CAD models. But this format used to save the file in a large number of lattice structures which produce errors. But the new software introduced stores the file in Additive Manufacturing File formats (AMF) that produces a lesser number of errors.

Whereas in CNC machining, the CAD models are converted into manufacturing directives using CAM software. The transformation of directives into G-codes and M-codes enables the machine to produce a highly accurate physical prototype. CNC is generally used for metallic prototypes, whereas 3D printer usually utilizes ABS, PLA and Soft PLA for development of physical prototypes.

3D printer

Importance of Design Phase

The critical part of the product manufacturing and assembly is the prototyping design. It involves the optimization of the design for the product to be developed. The design is mainly developed with the goal to make the manufacturing process easy. It is a critical process before making the new product. Following are some of the characteristics of prototyping design that make it such an important step in the development of products in the industries these days:

Cost Reduction

Design optimization reduces the cost of manufacturing up to great extent. The design of the product is effective in predicting the optimal manufacturing technique and the material of the product. Simplifying the design cuts down the cost of inventory reducing the assembly parts. Moreover, in the design phase, various components can be designed which can be aligned and fit among themselves reducing the cost of bolts and fasteners. The CAD model of the product can also be saved in the formats supported by the additive manufacturing techniques, hence the production of a prototype before the actual product can also reduce the cost in case of any errors or misalignment which can be then remodeled.

Standardization of the products also helps in reducing the cost. Parts are designed such that they can be shared between the product lines. The use of standard hardware is also possible by the common characteristics of the design. Products are designed such that they can utilize the standard components instead of the custom-made parts.

Time Reduction

The prototyping design is also useful in reducing the overall development time of the product. If there is any issue in the design, it can go back to the R&D department and can be modified again and again until the design is effective. The design can undergo different analyses by the use of software and can be amended according to the need. This enables the manufacturer to save a lot of time and money that could be lost if he has had entered into the manufacturing phase mere with a conceptual design in his head. Thus developing a design can save much time. The time of manufacturing can also be reduced by minimizing the number of operations required per part or simplifying the assembly steps by the optimization of a design.

The Precision of the Product

The design of the product plays an important role in the precision and accuracy of the product to be developed. It includes the bill of materials and final assembly including the tool designing, heat transfer analysis, mold layouts, stress analysis, and manufacturing process design. If the tool is designed correctly then the final product will be accurate and precise. The functionality of the final product is greatly dependent upon the design and prototype phases.

Concluding Remarks

Hence the designing phase is one of the most important and critical phases of product development as the whole product development process is dependent upon the design. The design must be optimized and simplified in order to reduce the cost and time of manufacturing. But the design must allow tolerances in the developed product in order to increase its fatigue life and prevent it from failure.

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