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Kim Babjak: What is Rapid Prototyping?

Thursday, 22 May 2008 | 4:49 PM ET

By Kim Babjak
Rapid prototyping is the process of creating physical objects from computer generated CAD program that a prototype machine can build a 3d design out of plastic or resin. Rapid P

rototyping is used to produce models and prototype parts, fast!

The most frequently asked question I get about weather, or not, to build a prototype is, do I need one?

YES! You will have a hard time attracting attention, buyers and customers if you do not have a tangible product to show them. The next question is where do I find one?

I always tell my clients who are looking for inventor services to go with a referral for a prototype, it is very important to research and do your homework first. Know the terminology first; understand the industry lingo for RP and what different types or material and processes there are. Just like anything else, there are many, many different process for many different application available out there. As with any industry, inexperience usually ends up costing you way more than it really costs. There is no exception here.

Just opening the Yellow Pages may be a bit tricky because you never know what you will end up with. Take some time to ask industry professionals, business owners or other inventors. You would be quite surprised how many referrals will eventually flow in.

I hear horror stories all the time about prototyping services that do nothing but take the inventors money, never to be heard from again, or produce a prototype that my four year old could do a better job creating. Your prototype will be representative of you as a business, your commitment to a quality product and will show how serious you are about bringing that product to market. Not to mention that you want them to purchased the line or product from you. You DO NOT want to show up with it taped, or pinned, to hold it together.

You can do a search on the Internet also. Just type in Rapid Prototype and 10,000 web sights will pop up. You want to pick several companies at a time and interview them. Get customer referrals form them and talk to them, asking how their experience was, how was the prototype turn around time, and how much they charged.

I would recommend the following companies to start and get your feet wet:

www.metrorp.com

www.rapidprototyping.net

www.solidconcepts.com

www.alphaprototypes.com

www.inventright.org

www.startupnation.com


I hope this helps!

- Kim