6 Benefits of Prototype Manufacturing to Startups

Summary: Startups can streamline their product development using prototype manufacturing. Read on for the six key benefits rapid prototyping offers them.

There’s no question that being a startup comes with its fair share of struggles, especially if you are planning to bring a physical product to market. Not only do startups have to come up with an original idea that will benefit the market they are entering but they also have to develop a market-ready product, find investors and financial backing, and more.

Fortunately, startups today have more tools and services at their fingertips than ever before, making it easier for them to develop innovative products. By working with prototyping manufacturing services such as RapidDirect, startups can benefit in many ways, from true-to-life prototypes to rapid turnaround times.

1. Cost savings

The first and most important benefit for startups that work with rapid prototype manufacturing services is cost. Most startups don’t have huge amounts of capital to invest in manufacturing technologies and thus do not have the resources to develop their product in-house. By working with an external prototype manufacturing service, startups can reap the benefits of state-of-the-art manufacturing processes like CNC machining, 3D printing, and sheet metal fabrication without the big price tag. Furthermore, rapid prototyping services such as RapidDirect offer competitive production costs, meaning that prototypes can be manufactured and delivered to startups on even the strictest budgets.

2. Expert knowledge

Following on the cost-benefit of working with a prototype manufacturing partner is the fact that many startups do not have the knowledge or expertise to produce high-quality prototypes in-house. Training existing staff or hiring a rapid prototyping expert is an expense that many startups would like to avoid. By ordering prototypes through a manufacturing service, startups can rely on qualified, trained experts to create their products. In other words, startups can focus on the creative development of their product as well as the testing and marketing stages without having to worry about manufacturing process parameters, machine settings, and other aspects that rapid prototyping services specialize in.

3. Time savings

Another key reason that startups should rely on rapid prototyping services for their product development is time. As any business will know, time saved is money saved, and the faster a product goes to market the better. Prototype manufacturing processes do not need tooling, meaning that parts are produced directly. This cuts an entire (and costly) step from the development process and enables startups to quickly evaluate designs before moving ahead into final production. Advanced processes like CNC machining and 3D printing create prototypes based on a CAD file ensuring that prototypes can be produced rapidly and with a high degree of accuracy. Rapid prototyping services such as RapidDirect can also promise fast turnaround times—in as little as three days—thanks to extensive manufacturing capabilities. Further, startups can save even more time by leveraging RapidDirect’s instant online quoting tool, which eliminates the need for customers to email back and forth to find a cost estimate for their prototype manufacturing job.

4. Flexibility

Tool-less manufacturing processes like CNC machining, 3D printing, and sheet metal fabrication also offer the benefit of flexibility. For startups, working with a prototype manufacturing service gives them access to cost-effective prototypes within short lead times, enabling them to evaluate and test a product design. If any issues with the product design are found, startups can easily go back to the drawing board, make changes to the CAD file, and have a new prototype made within days. This is an invaluable advantage, as it gives startups the freedom and flexibility to perfect their product design without incurring significant costs and keeping the time-to-market manageable. Rapid prototyping provides new opportunities for startup companies and all product and component designers because they don’t have to worry about adding weeks to the development process if they need to adjust the prototype design.

5. Product visualization

Startups can also benefit hugely from the accuracy of prototype manufacturing. This is true on many levels. In earlier product design stages, rapid prototyping can produce low-cost but visually accurate prototypes so that product designers can show stakeholders exactly what the end product will look like. In this stage, lower costs are achieved by using cheaper materials, like certain polymers, and lower tolerances. Having a physical representation of a product is hugely beneficial in itself: stakeholders do not have to imagine what a product will look like based on 2D images or drawings: they can see it and hold it in person.

6. Product testing

As the prototyping process advances, prototype manufacturing can also create true-to-life parts that not only resemble the final product visually but also in function. These prototypes, which are typically made from the end material (or similar material) and with higher tolerances, can be tested functionally. For example, a prototype might undergo stress tests or load-bearing tests to ensure that a product can withstand the necessary forces. It might also be tested ergonomically or in an assembly to validate the final design. For startups, utilizing prototype manufacturing can streamline the product testing phase and help to accelerate the time-to-market, without taking any shortcuts.

RapidDirect, leading prototype manufacturer

If you are a startup looking for a reliable prototype manufacturing partner, RapidDirect is the answer. Our team of qualified manufacturing experts will work with you to deliver prototypes that meet your needs, budgets, and timelines. It’s easy to get started, simply upload your design to our online Rapid Quote tool and select your preferred rapid prototyping method and it will generate a cost and lead-time estimate. For any additional support, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us directly!

For more information about product development, check out our handy guide, which outlines how to take your product from concept to production.

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