How 3D Printing transformed the way we rapid prototype
Flex arms serve a huge swath of different industries, from commercial kitchen technology to medical devices. What’s the common thread for all these different fields? Prototyping is an integral part of the process. Whether it’s understanding the stresses that a device will go through in the field, to seeing if it is able to integrate tech, sometimes the only way you can know if it works is to see it in person.
That makes rapid prototyping one of our biggest tasks when working with a client. It’s the place where we want to test out all the good ideas to make sure that we’re getting exactly what we need from the flex arm — and the device as a whole.
3D printing has unlocked rapid prototyping for companies like us. Not long ago, prototyping was hugely limited by cost, communication, and the size of the company’s development team. Not any longer, these days it’s never been easier to test how a design will perform in real life.
3D printing has made cost much less of a factor when rapid prototyping
When we started developing flex arm devices, it was a much different process than the one we have today. For starters, the cost was a major factor in prototyping. Tooling decisions took a lot more time and consideration, at times causing significant delays to the project schedule. As we’re so often told, time = money.
Those days are long gone. Today we can develop an idea into a fully printed part and deliver a sample arm assembly to the customer in a matter of days. It may not be in its final form, but at the very least it can give us (and our clients) something to hold in hand and manipulate. Many times, the printed part can be functional in the prototype. That can be particularly important, saving our clients money, yes — but also time. It’s much easier to identify and solve design problems when it’s in front of you, not some abstract thought or even blueprint.
With emailed blueprints, communication and collaboration is faster and easier than ever
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: communication and collaboration are two of the most important skills to making sure a device turns out the way the designer intended. That’s never been easier thanks to 3D printing. These days, we can have someone from our team design a part, print it out, then email the drawings over to a client, who can even print the part on their end. It’s not quite Star Trek technology, but it’s getting close. The client can also modify the print design and send the file back to us to replicate.
That’s an amazing new way to collaborate. Potentially, we could shave weeks of development time off a product thanks to this tech — plus we have a better understanding of what our partner’s goals are for their product in the design process. How so? By seeing how they might tweak their designs, we can see goals they have for their product that they may not have even vocalized during a meeting. Then, after confirming with them, we’ll be able to better serve them to reach their goals.
Time? Size of the company? The only limit is now our imagination and problem-solving skills
We mentioned time earlier, but it’s not just a money issue — it’s a creative one. 3D printing allows us to explore more options in a timely fashion. It also allows us to compete with larger companies who traditionally may have more resources to devote to their development.
Now that’s no longer the case: 3D printing accelerates innovation and problem solving for everyone on our team and yours. We’re confident that we’ll find a solution and be able to validate the design quickly through prototyping. Ready to see how? Schedule a call and let’s get started. We can’t wait to show you what comes next.
Working on a flex arm design? We are here for a no-pressure phone call. We’d love to hear more about what you are working on and give you ideas and prototypes to improve your decision-making process. Give us a call, we promise it will be worth your while.