How To Choose The Best Prototype Material

prototype material

This article is contributed by Stella Martinez.

Whether you have a great money-making invention, a piece of equipment or furniture you need for your store, or a tool you want to create to help complete your job and provide a service more efficiently than ever; it has never been so easy for small businesses and entrepreneurs to see their designs and products become a reality. Thanks to the wealth of engineering services online, the introduction of new digital printing technologies and the huge amount of information available to us all, anything you need for your business can be created precisely to specification and in no time at all.

This new convenience and practicality is of course a huge benefit for smaller companies and enables them to provide exactly the services they want even without having the expertise or the equipment, and thus means they can compete with much larger and more established businesses.

That said though, this can also potentially create problems if it results in those businesses rushing out products without taking due consideration or doing research to make up for their lack of experience. Creating any new product is a very complicated process with a lot of factors that can go wrong, and it’s important to be as cautious and as careful as possible.

Something as seemingly simple as deciding on a material for instance, is actually fraught with issues and complications. Here we will look at some of those, and at how to make the right choice to avoid putting out a shoddy product or creating an unsafe work environment.

Strength

The first and most important consideration when deciding what material to use for your product is the strength and resilience. This is particularly important if the product is a piece of furniture for instance that needs to bear weight, as it could be dangerous if it were to give way (and highly embarrassing).

Making sure then that the material is strong enough for your intended use is very important, and ideally it should be tested to under much more strenuous conditions than it’s likely to be subject too. For instance, you shouldn’t test a one person chair under the weight of one person – but in fact under the weight of several people to ensure there’s no chance of it breaking.

It’s also important to consider how strong your material will be if your item is going to have narrower details or if it has hinges and other moving parts. Make sure that your product is at least fit for purpose and won’t easily come apart in your customer’s/client’s hands.

Conditions

Thinking about the conditions that your product is going to be subject to is crucial when deciding whether or not the material is resilient enough. For instance, while a product might be able to take the required weight, it could be that exposure to extreme temperatures causes warping or expansion and contraction leading to cracking. Likewise if your product or item is going to be exposed to the rain then it needs to be rust and water proof. Another consideration is whether the material conducts or insulates heat – a piece of street furniture made out of a highly conductive material for instance could be dangerous if there is nothing to prevent it getting very hot in the sun.

Price

Price of course is a major factor in any business venture, and you need to consider this when choosing what to make your items out of. Here you need to walk the line between ensuring the result looks premium/high quality, and that it will be sturdy and reliable, while at the same time keeping overheads low so that you can maximise your profits.

Note though as well, that another way to save money on your materials is to change the design slightly. Look into ways that you can provide the same appealing aesthetics and same function/strength while using less material. This might mean hollowing elements out, or making chair legs narrower etc.

Other Factors

There are many other factors to consider that will depend on the nature of your item. Weight for instance might be a factor if your product is designed to be carried, while you may also need to think about how susceptible your item will be to dirt and staining.

You should consider all these things when choosing your materials, but most important of all is to test your product comprehensively once all details are finalized.  You can then identify any issues early on and reconsider before they’re out there being used by the public.

Author Bio: Stella Martinez of TRJ Engineering loves her work and is thankful for the faith that TRJ Engineering has in her and her abilities. She is a perfectionist and tries to do her best and be the best.

Image Credit: prototype material image courtesy of morgueFile.

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