Once the design work has been completed, it is nearly always wise to manufacture a prototype. This is especially true when the project involves a novel idea and there is nothing similar. Furthermore, no matter how detailed the electronic output, there is nothing to compare with a "real life" part to verify how a design "feels".
Concepts To Reality can utilise several different methods to produce the prototype. Depending on the specific requirements any of the processes listed will be employed:
Rapid Prototyping - Often termed SLA or SLS models. These are produced directly from the CAD files and when complete, resemble a rigid plastic component. They are dimensionally very accurate (normally to within 0.1mm) and are semi-clear. Models can be further finished by bead-blasting and painting to give the look and feel of a finished component. The only slight drawback with this type of prototype is that the physical strength is not as high as a moulded plastic part and they can be quite brittle, meaning any designs subjected to high loads can be susceptible to breaking. CTR Design can advise about all the limitations of various rapid prototyping methods, and recommend the best process.
If several prototypes are required, then there is a facility to create up to 20 parts from a single model, by using silicon resin tooling. Again, there are limiting factors and the cost / volume is very dependant on the design of the part - CTR intimately know the limitations of the process and can maximise the quality while keeping costs down.
CNC machining or conventional machining - Excellent for most components. With CNC machining, the CAD model information is imported directly into the machine tool to eliminate errors and very complicated shapes can be produced easily. Conventional machining is best used for more simple operations and shapes, with the information obtained from a traditional drawing.
Concepts To Reality sub-contract all machining and Rapid prototyping work, but carry out the finishing and final fitting in-house. Due to an extensive network of sub-contract companies (and a few cunning tricks!) an excellent price is always achieved for all sub-contract work, significantly below the prevailing market rate.
Once all the parts have been manufactured, the prototypes can either be assembled and finished at CTR, or shipped to the customer for assembly.