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Prototyping Parts – Costs and Things to Consider

Whether you’re an engineer, industrial designer or architect, manufacturing prototype components can be a real challenge. Product development, although sometimes burdensome, is essential for those who wish to release the best product to market. This guide will demonstrate everything you need to know in order to obtain the parts you need at the highest level of quality and at the cheapest cost.

Prototyping parts – a prototype is a rudimentary working model of a product or information system, usually built for demonstration purposes or as part of the development process.

Why is prototyping  important?

Prototypes are a handy resource in that they allow manufacturers to acquire feedback on an early form of a product before it reaches the market. This is essential in that prototyping can help you to spot potential flaws within the design. Additionally, prototyping can help you understand how to market your product and find more cost-effective solutions. 

What costs should I consider?

Any product developer wishes for a streamlined and careful journey to market and this is why it is essential to approach an experienced engineering company. An engineering company with a lack of experience in producing prototypes can result in costly mistakes where parts don’t meet expectations and have to be redesigned. 

As you approach precision engineering companies, there are a few things you should consider which will help reduce unnecessary costs. 

  • Ensure quality control coincides with the proper documentation and certification.  You should always ensure documentation and certificates are provided alongside quality control. This will ensure that prototypes and prototype parts production are up to your standard and with the correct materials. 
  • Speed is everything. The market is very competitive and product designers may often find themselves racing to get their products to market as quick as possible. A lackadaisical approach when developing prototypes can be costly where competitors have a quicker route to market. To resolve this, ensure that companies can meet deadlines and look elsewhere if they cannot meet the timeline you set out. 
  • Reputation – A poorly produced product can have serious implications on the long-term reputation of any company. It is important that your individual components are reliable for the end product going to market. If the prototype does not live up to standards, it may effect the reputation of those supplying the finalised design.

Balance Cost with Quality 

Although it can be tempting to approach the cheapest providers possible, you should be cautious that you will get what you pay for. Rather than aiming for the cheapest production possible, aim for the fairest.  Depending on the requirements you have set out, you should weigh up the potential cost with the quality of design. By working closely with your chosen precision engineer, details can be refined and complex designs can be simplified. In doing so, costs can be considerably reduced. 

You should think long-term and understand that what is cheaper short-term might cost you more long-term. This is especially true with mass production and a failure in sales in the market. By working with an experienced team, you can spot potential flaws early which will help lead to a more long-term reliable product.  Additionally, doing so will make the product easier, more cost-effective and faster to produce. 

prototyping parts

Necessary Steps in developing Prototyping Parts

Expert coordination is a must when developing prototypes. You should ensure that a designated person with strong leadership skills can facilitate the product development process. Failure to have someone to take this responsibility may lead you to miss deadlines. Additionally, key details could be lost without prompt communication. 

Once you acquire new components, you may want to test them and run focus groups on completed designs. This will depend on the type of product and the purpose of the prototype. For many engineering components, stress testing might be carried out. This can be done during the design phase and will allow for any quality checks and alterations to be made before the final design is sent for approval. 

If the prototype is well tested and lives up to standard, you can be confident that the outcome will be even better. Measurements and margins can be accounted for in this process before things get taken too far. 

You should ensure that a decent portion of your time is spent on this process. Keep your customers’ best interests in mind, keeping a keen eye for any potential pitfalls. Gathering detailed feedback from a range of sources will help you become aware of issues you may have overlooked on first glance.

Feedback acquired will also be of great use as you approach the market and need to consider a marketing strategy. This is as you will be fully aware of the strengths of the components which can be a useful tool as you attempt to gain a competitive edge. 

Finally, arguably the most important aspect of developing prototype components is to refine and make improvements. Do not let the speed of production compromise quality. Sloppily produced products can have serious implications for a company’s reputation. Utilise the opportunity to make improvements and ensure to test them in a variety of situations. 

Ordering Prototypes/ Prototyping Parts

As you gather the materials necessary for the production of prototypes, a considerable amount of communication is desirable. Take initiative and provide extensive detail in order to reduce inaccuracies and further speed up production. 

The company you choose as you obtain these parts should be able to provide you with helpful feedback in areas that can be improved as well as further additional support. Technical drawing, if provided, can be helpful in giving a visual representation of the parts you will receive. 

A few More Things To Consider…

  • Take advantage of design advice – Throughout the manufacturing journey, ensure that you take advantage of any manufacturing advice provided. Your chosen company may be able to provide expert knowledge on possible cheaper designs and improvements in functionality. However, obtaining the best advice here requires you to be working with a company with a considerable amount of experience with producing prototypes. 
  • Customer Service – When choosing your prototyping company, ensure to pick one that you are comfortable communicating with. By doing so, you will see an enhancement in productivity as you will be able to better communicate the task. Direct communication with the engineer is much more preferable than speaking third hand with call handlers in an office. Regular contact will also be beneficial in that it will help you relax more during the production process as you realise the work set is in safe hands. 
  • Quality of employees –  In obtaining high quality service, you want to make sure you find an engineering company that takes pride in their work. Where employees put forward a lackluster effort, you become increasingly unlikely to receive the quality of service you need.  By communicating effectively with the company, you should be able to gage if they deserve your trust. This will become evident in the level of passion they have in discussing their work. It will also become evident whether they have the knowledge, skills and experience to produce a quality finished product. 
  • Level of expertise – Any company that you approach should  be able to provide previous examples of their work. When doing so, it is of even better use if the examples provided are within the area you are working on. Epal has experience with over 11,000 jobs and thus we are confident in our abilities to meet your requirements. We guarantee that by partnering with us you will be fully informed throughout the production process and have your expectations met.  Our range of time within the industry have provided us with a range of contacts for additional requirements, making sure that challenging issues are resolved. 
  • Commitment – Just as important as the level of expertise provided by your chosen engineers is the level of commitment. Receiving components that fail to meet your expectations can be a literal nightmare. Ensure your chosen precision engineering company implements thorough control procedures that ensure high level results. Consider whether the company will work flexibly alongside you to help develop your product the best it can be. In short, always ensure you are confident with your engineers before proceeding with your product. 

Take Control – A Summary 

Prototype manufacturing can be a daunting task. In order to not get overwhelmed it is important to have a clear strategy and timeline that is overseen by strong leadership. Communication is key with regards to this and by actively engaging with your chosen engineers you should be able to collaborate in an effective way that reduces costs and not to the detriment of quality. Pick your chosen engineering company cautiously, ensuring that they share the same passion and pride in their work that you do. Finally, ensure you are patient when acquiring prototyping parts. Rushing a product out to market can have serious long term consequences on your company reputation and can be costly even if cheaper in the short term. 

Working with Epal Engineering: How to bring your new product to market successfully

It is clear to see the importance of prototyping; investing in a professionally manufactured prototype may be an additional expense you would rather avoid, but its value should certainly not be overlooked. A properly produced prototype will allow you to identify any potential flaws before the product is rolled out en masse – a costly mistake that’s difficult to immediately rectify and may damage your brand’s reputation in the long term too. Ready to work with an engineering firm to create a successful product prototype? Contact the Epal team today by either emailing us at or calling us directly on 1903 744352. We will be more than happy to discuss your individual requirements and how we can assist you through every step of the process.

If you would like to learn more about Epal or what we do, why not give these a read?

CAD/CAM software: How it aids precision engineering

Tolerances and margins in precision engineering: How strict are they?

The Ins and Outs of Precision Wire Erosion and EDM Machining

Epal Engineering

Here at Epal Engineering we are really proud of what we do. We are passionate about doing the best job for all of our clients and working to an extremely high standard to make sure they get exactly want they require.

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