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December 07, 2009


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Your article is very informative and the use of graphics adds to understanding the process. I think some of your sentences are too long, and a few minor commas are missing. You did very well for your first blog. When I write my first blog, I hope it is as readable as yours.


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c'mon folks, we can do better.. let's take back our title!


Your advice is very useful. Thank you

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I loved this post. I really like the ideas they provide and as the subject development. thank you very much!


Springs are of many forms out of which most common spring is compression spring. Compression springs can further be categorized as Conical Springs, barrel springs and hour glass spring to name few.


A very informative intro post into the principles behind digital prototyping methods. we use SLS /SLA and FDM for obtaining very intricate mold components by infusing bronze and the final product is an alloy that has properties to match for short run tooling in die-cast as well injection mold production. We also duplicate parts by using a metal loaded epoxy and create short-run tools to make no offs from RP models.
May be you could add properties of all polymers and equivalents that can come in RP that can match and simulate real time materials and their properties.


Very detailed and informative. Although I don't understand all aspects of it, I certainly have an understanding of the process as a whole, especially with these final steps. Very thorough and well written.

Engineers Edge

Aw come on - you comment spamed Engineers Edge - let us comment spam you!

Engineering Motion

TO see a rapid prototyping machine in action see www.engineeringmotion.com - pretty cool stuff.

Engineers Edge

Check out www.engineersedge.com Engineers Edge. There is a bunch of rapid prototyping articles and how-tos.


Tim, I now have a much better understanding of the different processes to make prototypes, what process is best if I need to make 20 to 50 samples for consumer testing? My product idea will be made of plastic.

Werner Karwinski

Hi Tim,
We are a Product Design and Development firm and are using other companies which provide us with SLA processes as needed. There is however the occasion where we have to design and build a fully hardened steel mold for the parts because of intricate small details or especially hinged applications which do not form well and function as intended.

We go about it in in a cost saving manor and design and build individuall handloaded tools to test certain applications which can be quickly altered.
Once all concepts are proven we build a complete single cavity or family tool which includes all functions.

It allows us to have a preproduction run for the client. It has happend that
this tool lasted for the entire production needed because the product lifecycle
was very short or because of low quantities sold in the market place.
In most cases we design and build multi cavity tools which have run for years
and just need common maintainance.

Having said all this SLA and Rapid prototyoing has minimized cost to get to the market faster and for a minimum amount of money after of course the product designer has done his job concepting we get the "touchy feely"
with processes like this and can change the product concept before spending a lot more money for the client, which otherwise would have had to live with the original idea after a complete family mold was designed and build.

We are a complete development firm where the idea drives everything.
A good idea + A good concept development process = A good outcome

Werner Karwinski
Cad Design Enterprises, Inc.

Michael Plishka

Good article. I agree with one of the other posters. Your article focuses on the high tech prototype methods. Paper/cardboard, plastic, wood, clay (I love clay!), metal, all work. The goal is to test(whatever) and test often.

I also gave my perspective on your project graphic by reworking it here:

In my experience, Design is more front-end and it overlaps with many of the other aspects; this is done to expedite time to market and minimize unpleasant surprises between engineering/marketing/manufacturing/etc.

Nice work!


Hi Timothy,

Overall this is good. Great photos.
- Reduce size of first photo about 15%
- Group each ‘rapid prototype method’ link with the picture that illustrates it
- The eye likes ‘white space.’ In “Prototypes fall into four categories:” area consider using this layout:

Functional Prototype:
Simulates the final design, ….

- Substitute sub heading: “4 Benefits of Using A Prototype” instead of "Why Prototype?"

'Hope this helps. It can be tough to be objective about your own blog I had similar problems with my own blog (http://blog.myhealthjournal.ca).
Good luck,
Virginia Menzie


Your article is well written and informative. Years ago it took so much work to see if an idea would work. With the new technology, it is alot easier to see if your invention will work or not. Keep up with the great work!

Tim Ruffner

My turn to reply to some comments ;). I learned from Conrad that I do not have to reply to everyone's comments, so I will do my best at replying to the ones I see fit best! BTW. This is the link to Conrad's blog. http://www.communitymarketing.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/12/6-keys-to-a-successful-blog-post.html

@Val - I tried to keep my post as short as I can while still peaking interest. I see exactly where you are coming from, I went over a little bit about why the prototype is needed in my previous blog. http://www.communitymarketing.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/12/5-steps-to-patent-your-invention.html

@Mary Ann - I will take your comment into consideration in regards to my next blog. I will keep my sentences short and to the point :)
@Poly - I can imagine what you went through developing prototypes out of plaster and wood. I applaud you for that. I am in the technological era, where I rely on my computer to do most of the work for me lol.
@Dan - I tried to use this blog as more of an introduction to current prototype trends and the least expensive of them all. Additive manufacturing processes can build parts in several hours, hence why it is called Rapid Prototyping. I tried to touch on the actual patent and idea generating for useful products to the market in my previous posts. I am a firm believer that if you dream it no matter if a trinket or not then you should be able to make that dream a reality. My wife loves trinkets, I love useful products like my handy dandy cordless saw zall ;)
@Robert - In regards to costs involved with prototyping. The thing about AM is that it uses the CAD file to figure out build time. Its very hard to come up with costs especially since all those methods are different. DMLS is the easiest and best way to develop fast metal parts, the cheapest maybe not. 3D printing is the fastest and most inexpensive (not cheap) way to develop plastic prototypes. You can get a 3" square plastic prototype for just a couple hundred dollars.

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on my blog, it really means a lot to me. Stay tuned for my next blog which will be on PRODUCTION after that is my last blog on MARKETING.

Greg Dee

Very informative Tim Thanks. Looks like a development savings...

Craig Hutchings


Once again a great job....Always very informative and well thought out. Look forward to the next one!



Hi Tim and to all,

Your presentation Tim is very technical; I’m sorry to don’t understand it perfectly, because I don't master perfectly English; but this is an excellent work from the viewpoint of technical presentation of a prototype.
Your presentation in 3D is very well, but personally (and it's only my personal vision), I think that the marketing presentation of a prototype should be lived according to different visions, while including more virtual graphic:
* A crescent from potential market of the prototype, on the national plan;
* A crescent from potential market of the prototype on an international extension;
* An histogram on 5 to 7 years of the commercial margin in comparison with the production cost.
In your presentation, I would start with a catchy summary with the starting picture followed by a more commercial, more economical and more lawful approach, and in last, technical approach of the prototype.
A prototype, which that it be, interests investors, bankers first for the commercial margin that it will produce, for its quickly place invading on the market;
Second, the prototype will interest in comparison with a cost of interesting production.
And the technical vision of the prototype should finish the presentation.
But here it was just my personal marketing vision from France….

Have a Great and Wonderful Evening everyone,
Best Regards...

Sam Diener

Tim - btw - after this contest we have to work on a project I have together....

Charlie Accetta

Very nicely put together. I especially like the use of photos (even though I have no idea what any of them are, they are engaging), along with the outline format used deeper into the text. I've perused the other comments and my advice would be to totally ignore anything regarding product inclusion or textual targeting. You write very well for the intended purpose, which is technical and narrow in scope. Good luck with the follow-ups.

Mary Ann

Your article is very informative and the use of graphics adds to understanding the process. I think some of your sentences are too long, and a few minor commas are missing. One thing I was taught, never end a sentence with a preposition.

You did very well for your first blog. When I write my first blog, I hope it is as readable as yours.

Bill MacDonald

Nice job Tim. I work with inventors and product developers as well as established manufacturers. I will use your article as a reference in helping my customers understand their options for product development.

Poly Endrasik Jr

Nice post, great detail. I would have liked to see the costs that are associated to it so I could add to my business case justifications to use the technology. Keep up the good work!

BTW; I "early" retired out of Chrysler and had the opportunity to see several of these methods first hand and it was really cool! Also was around long enough to see the early days of prototypes being hand-built, off blueprints, by amazing craftsmen (and women) in the wood, plaster, clay, plastic/fiberglass shops - technology has sure come a long way.

John Roberts

Prototyping in a vacuum has always been fraught with failure. I firmly believe design should start with researching the end users needs.A good ethnographer can replace a lot of futile effort.

Dan Conine

Good, but it reads like a sales pitch for expensive prototyping methods. You forgot the standard methods of prototyping, such as machining, welding and woodworking, which often are critical to understanding the manufacturing process for things that are not injection molded or sintered metals. Your article is great for the average trinket maker, but the world has enough trinkets already, and we don't need to speed up the process of invention.
Another point to consider is that if an inventor can't build (or find out how to build) the device they are trying to patent, then they don't know enough about the real science of it and should be denied a patent. After all, the patent is a system to increase the broad acceptance of new technology for the benefit of a country, not simply an ego-boosting device for inventors. The prototype requirement also slows down the applications for the overly complex technologies, relieving some of the burden on the USPTO.
With all that said, you did a fine job of presenting the information and points that are important. Now, let's figure out how to get people to invent USEFUL, long lasting stuff instead of junk made from plastic and petroleum.


When identifying the steps to design it makes it easier when you have an insight on Pre-Production Prototypes. In this blog you have a distinct and creative way of designing a project by outlining the individual steps and using the pictures for examples. This blog is very well put together and I think you did a great job!

Jana G

This was very interested and informative. However, you neglected to mention Autodesk's products (Inventor, AutoCAD, Showcase), which seems to be an oversight. Also, at Autodesk University I recently heard of a new 3D holographic technology that could be used in place of 3D printing. Not sure if it has a place in this article but thought I would mention it. Overall a very nice and effective job.

Sam Diener

TIM.....way to go on the traffic! I knew you could do it!


reads well... tweak the before mentioned and your gold.

Jim Naugle

Very nice Tim. Would you be interested in presenting specifically on Direct Selective or Metal Laser Sintering at LIA's Laser Additive Manufacturing Workshop?


Great Job!!! Informative and attention keeping!


Great Post! Very detail orientated and explanatory.
Found this sentence - "I am going to go into which prototype method you will utilize and why, before I do that let me explain why you need a prototype." My suggestion is that you either add a "but" or "however" after the comma. It would then read: I am going to go into which prototype method you will utilize and why, (but/however) before I do that let me explain why you need a prototype.
"Form Study Prototype: Allows designers to explore the basic size, look and feel of a product without simulating the actual function or exact visual appearance of the product and are often hand-carved or machined models from easily sculpted, inexpensive materials (e.g., urethane foam), without representing the intended color, finish, or texture."
It sounds like the last piece of that sentence, "without representing the intended color, finish, or texture." is repetitive. You already mention that you will not be simulating the "exact visual appearance of the product".
"Smooth out your invention's design: Once you build your idea into a prototype, now you can actually test it in real life situations and look out for design or concept flaws." After the comma, take out "now". It's unnecessary. Sentence will flow without it.

Again, great post as usual. Keep up the good work.

Dave Osmonson

Hey Tim,

Nice write-up, I have always been curious and interested in the invention theory and concept. Now I know where to go with my ideas:)

Good job,


Martin O'Connor

Very sophisticated post. Nice work.

Good information.



if i had an invention your articles would help me tremendously they are very informative and easy to understand keep up the good work and i just may invent something

Rebecca Ybarra

Very common sense approach, very helpful and direct advice.

Robert Davison

Very informative article and the use of graphics aids understanding.

I suppose an inventor will always be interested to know how much it will cost to prototype a product, so perhaps an indicative cost, or comparison on the various methods?

Keep the posts coming!

Kimberly Roman

Where do you usually get the 3D CAD data required to perform rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing? Are you familiar with portable CMMs to caputure this data?


nice posting and helpful info.

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