Successfully Getting a 3D-printed Prototype Off the Ground

3D printing is still a fairly young technology, and mistakes are bound to be made during the prototype stage. You can avoid listing yourself among the lesson-teaching failures by taking a close look at your design at an early stage.

Before you get started on your 3D printing project, take these three simple steps to ensure that your idea is doable. That way, you can more confidently enter the prototype phase and save yourself time and money.

1. Get Out a Pencil and Some Paper

Your prototype has to start somewhere, and it’s not at the manufacturer. Before you approach a 3D printing services provider, try sketching your idea on paper. The finished product may end up far from what you have in mind early on, but this crucial step can help you rule out a dud. You can also improve your prototype by taking an early look. Your ideas are never more flexible than when you are in the brainstorming phase, after all. Hang onto each drawn rendering, as they might come in handy once you’re actually creating your prototype.

2. Look at Your Concept from a Practical Perspective

You have drawn your idea on paper; now you can step back and look at it in a new light. Does it look like an object that can be created with 3D printing services? For example, can your drawing be made into one simple piece (or made from multiple easily interconnected pieces)? And just as importantly, does it look like your newly designed object is shaped in a way that will allow it to stand unsupported? One critical flaw of some 3D-printed designs is that that can fall into themselves during production if they are not properly designed. This is something you can head off if you are able to take an objective, practical look at your design early on.

3. Research the Competition

Surely, you have overlooked something. The best way to find out is to research your idea. You can quickly find out if anyone has attempted a similar design through 3D printing services, and you can see if and where they fell short. You might spot a fatal flaw that doomed someone else’s 3D-printed object, or maybe you will find the inspiration to enhance the idea that you’re bringing to life through 3D printing.