Rapid prototyping: 3D printers can do that
Stacy Reed • November 14, 2017if( has_post_thumbnail( $post_id ) ): ?>
What is rapid prototyping?
Prototyping a product used to take months and cost tens of thousands of dollars. 3D printers, like you might find in a local makerspace or even a library, cut that down to hours and pennies.
When businesses are coming up with new design ideas or product, they often look to prototypes and scale models to test out their vision in the real world. While advanced, manufacturer-ready prototypes still cost a lot in terms of dollars and days. 3D printers have made rapid prototyping and creating proof of concept scale models accessible to even the most bootstrapped startup, student or budding artist.
Even with today’s admittedly rudimentary 3D “consumer level” printing technology, a model or a part can be turned from a digital design into a physical thing quickly and for just a few cents per gram of media needed to print. Quick real-world testing helps refine the design and planning phases of the product cycle, whatever the 3D printed model may be.
Going 3D? Get to a makerspace
So, 3D printing has revolutionized the way rapid prototyping works. Still, there’s a lot of work to do to make this technology available to people.
Comparatively speaking, a 3D printer is very inexpensive. Even this relatively small investment doesn’t make sense, though, if the need isn’t already clear. Part of what makes a makerspace so valuable is that you don’t have to have an idea already in order to get started. Sure it helps, but a makerspace, like Ting Makerspace: Westminster or the Tinkersmiths in Charlottesville VA, is as much a place to get inspired as it is to, well, make.
While they’re comparatively simple today, there’s definitely a learning curve to overcome. In any makerspace worth its salt, you’ll find people or at least training tools to get started. If you’ve got an idea, a supportive makerspace is the perfect place to bring it to life.
Makerspaces will typically have many other tools, too. 3D printers that turn virtual things into physical things, 3D scanners that reverse that process, laser engravers for all manner of interesting projects, CNC routers and other subtractive manufacturing tools.
In addition, you’ll find the software (like Meshmixer) and the resources on site to learn how to use it.
Case study: Rapid prototyping with Bytelion in the Ting Makerspace
The Ting Makerspace, located in Westminster MD, is a community hub for the tech community in Carroll County. The technology and resources in the Makerspace offer start-ups and small businesses unparalleled access to the latest tools and tech.
Bytelion is an innovative tech company located in Carroll County, MD. Bytelion builds tech and applications for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Clients come in with business concepts, idea and ways to enhance ideas and Bytelion helps them realize their goals. If entrepreneurs, startups and companies can dream it, Bytelion can build it.
Bytelion has made use of the tools and tech available in the Makerspace. As a prototyping option, they’ve found great success using various tools and machines including Inkscape, the laser engraver and the CNC Router. Bytelion is excited by the potential of other equipment in the makerspace too, but wasn’t ready to reveal any plans on that front.
At Ting, we look at a makerspace as the physical embodiment of all the things we love about the Internet. Makerspaces bring people together to collaborate or sometimes just to hang out. Knowledge and ideas are grown and shared. Beginners learn from experts until they start teaching the next generation of beginners themselves.
Visit the Ting Makerspace
If you’re in Westminster, come by Ting Makerspace: Westminster. Find the makerspace in your town. Often they’re part of the local library system because the sharing the guiding principles of knowledge is common ground between the two.
15 E Main St #100