Turning an idea into a workable product that your target audience actually wants is a multi-step process. Using metal parts to prototype is a crucial part of that process.
If you try to skip from idea-to-final-product without first testing the idea, it’s bound to cost you time, money, and a whole lot of momentum.
A critical component of the product building journey is the prototyping phase.
The preliminary design and prototyping of a new product enables you to evaluate its workability and determine whether or not the concept has legs. It can also help you iron out kinks in the design and tweak the end product to better suit the way someone uses the product.
There are several techniques you can use to create a prototype of a product, but laser cutting is perhaps the most cost-effective, accurate, and efficient way to do so. Especially with the growing interest from prototypers in online laser-cutting services.
But why are so many prototypers considering laser cutting over other methods? What makes it so unique?
Before we discuss how to order prototype metal parts online, let’s kick off by looking at why laser cutting is suitable for prototyping.
The Benefits of Laser Cutting Metal for Prototyping
Laser cutting has transformed our approach to design and manufacturing of metal parts. Several industries, such as architecture, engineering, and robotics manufacturing, among others, rely on regular metal prototyping where speed and accuracy are paramount. Laser cutting has significantly improved the efficiency of this process.
Here are some benefits of laser cutting for prototyping:
- Laser cutting improves precision. The laser cutting process is built for accuracy and precision. Each cut is pinpoint based on the design, leaving a smooth finish, less waste, and an accurate representation of the end product.
- Laser cutting is fast. When compared with other prototyping methods such as water jet or CNC machining, laser cutting is fast and efficient. You could order a prototype metal part online today and have a physical product in your hands in as little as three days. By reducing the creation time while maintaining accuracy, you increase the efficiency of your product production process.
- A laser cutting prototype looks, feels, and functions as the end product. When compared with other fast prototyping processes, such as 3D printing, laser cutting is unrivaled for products that are designed to be built with metal. You simply can’t replicate the end product experience when using non-metal materials.
Basically, production speed, precision, and end-product replicability are essential aspects to consider when prototyping. That is why most creators are opting for laser cutting.
So, then, how do you order prototype metal parts online?
Let’s take a look…
Getting a Quote For Your Metal Prototype
Most people who work in prototyping and product creation are probably familiar with clunky ordering processes, complex quotes, and drawn out fulfillment times. Thankfully, this isn’t the case when you order a laser cut prototype online.
When you order your prototype from an online laser cutting service, such as SendCutSend, the lead time is fast. The online ordering process aims to flip the outdated manufacturing and prototyping business model on its head by making it simple and efficient. All you need in order to get a laser-cutting quote is a compatible design file and five spare minutes. Ordering your next metal prototype could be as easy as buying a book on Amazon!
The SendCutSend system will give you an automatic quote for your prototype if you have a design file in AI, DWG, or DXF. Or, alternatively, you can get a quick custom quote for other common file types such as EPS, PDF, Raster, STEP, or SVG.
After you have uploaded your compatible file and selected your metal, the software calculates the cost automatically. This significantly reduces the time it takes to request a prototyping quote – especially if you were to go down the CNC machining or injection molding path. As well, it allows you to play around with your design, toggle between materials, and decide the best approach for your product without spending hours of time (and lots of money) on multiple prototypes.
You also don’t have to go back and forth with slow-moving manufacturing partners over email for weeks on end!
Fine-Tune Your Prototype Design For Cutting
The file you submit for your order needs to be a Vector-based – .ai, .DXF or .DWG format. These files are editable using Adobe Illustrator, AutoCad, Fusion360 and other CAD software.
When designing your prototype for laser cutting, here are some things to consider:
- Don’t include dimensions and scales in your drawing because they can affect the cutting process. If you need to provide additional guidelines, add a note to your order.
- Ensure correct scaling before submitting your design to match the size of your product. If your design isn’t to scale, the prototype is unlikely to turn out how you envisioned and you’ll need to cut again, increasing your costs.
- Don’t attempt to fit several parts into one piece of material. If you require nesting, then submit one design and indicate how many copies you will need cut.
- If you have parts which will be cut using different materials, separate the files rather than including them all in one.
- Convert all text into shapes and make sure they have linking bridges for efficient cutting. Common lines should not intersect, overlap, or touch each other.
Cost and Shipping
When you order prototype metal parts online the cost can vary depending on your design, material of choice, and material thickness. With SendCutSend, you can expect to spend a minimum of $29 on your prototype, with cost benefits given to bulk orders or multiple purchases over time.
Delivery is fast, typically taking three days or less after an order is placed.
All in all, with laser cutting, the whole prototyping process is fast, efficient, and fairly cheap when compared with any other option.
Laser cutting has revolutionized the manufacturing industry by introducing simpler ways of fabricating parts for production. Prototyping has become easier while the overall cost of production has reduced.
With the introduction of online laser cutting services, the turnaround time and speed of execution has dramatically improved. You can literally get a quote, place an order, and have your working prototype in your hands in days.
Have any questions about how to order prototype metal parts online? Get in touch with us today.