Prototype Makers Turn Your New Idea Into Hardware



So you are ready for the next big step? Prototype Makers are expensive. Being prepared will help keep your cost down. By now you should have:

1) Started your Inventors Journal and had it signed and witnessed by two people.

2) Made your first sketches and statements. These should be in your Inventors Journal.

3) Made your breadboard prototype, a clay model, or even a computer model.

4) If you don’t have a computer model you will need a drawing that clearly defines your hardware. The drawing can be done by hand or with a CAD CAM SOFTWARE. Be sure you’re using a legal software. (See CAD CAM Software piracy)

The first model of the B52 bomber model was hand craved from balsa wood in a motel room the night before a presentation. The truth is almost no one carves models by hand any more.

Today’s prototype makers use computer models to make your new idea into hardware. Two popular options for your prototype are.

1) Stereo lithography: This method requires a computer model or a dataset. The SLA machine has a tank of plastic resin with a table that moves up and down. The table starts at the top position. Lasers are projected in precise motions on the table. The plastic resin solidifies and one layer is complete. The table is lowered and the next layer begins. This process is repeated until the part is complete. Almost any computer model can be made by SLA. I have seen a ship in a bottle and skeleton of a human hand made by SLA.

2) Machining from a solid: A machinist will use a Computerized Numerical Control lathe or mill to make just one part. A piece of stock is clamped in the machine and the cutting tools generate the part shape. This can be done from your hand sketches, 2D CAD Drawing, or a computer model. Your new idea can be machined from metal, plastic, or even wood.

You should be able to find several prototype makers in your area. The more complete your design the less it will cost to have it made. Before hand your new idea over to a prototype machine shop. Be sure to have them sign a nondisclosure agreement. Prototype makers should sign a standard form from “Profit From Your Idea” by Richard Stim. A word about your design…. KEEP IT SIMPLE. A complex design will increase your prototype cost.

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