Manufacturing is a ruthless industry. It demands fast performances from their players and most of them need to meet many conditions related to costs, functionality, and performance that not everyone is willing to comply. A saturated industry for sure, rapid prototyping is always looking for ways to cut costs and become more profitable. The recommended course of action to develop any manufacturing project should be to go with a single company that can handle every stage of the project. Sadly, in a market where keeping low costs I the norm there are too many entrepreneurs avoiding additional expenses by working each stage of development as separate steps. The process seems to work to some extent, but is prone to be exposed to some levels of risk.
This is what you can do to avoid failure if you are working this way:
Use CAD Models and Add all the drafts you Need on Them
CAD is still one of the premiere design tools used on computers, adding drafts to it is a way to offer a lot of insight to the manufacturer about the things you expect out of it. You should point out on these drafts specifications like all the angles of the products, the materials you plan to work with, the thickness of the parts as well as the expected texture of it. Make sure to taper the sides of the mold on the prototype, so you can get an inside look at it if you need to!
Try to Avoid Undercuts
Back drafted areas on the design make it difficult to eject the part out of the mold, and it makes the production cycle unnecessarily complicated. Make the tooling of your project as easy as you can by taking away any undercuts on the design. While many manufacturers can point this out for you at the moment, you commission a production run, your best bet to avoid increasing costs is by having them all worked out on the rapid prototyping stage.
Don’t Put Sharp ends in Your Design
Sharp corners or sharp ends on your design will only create problems when it’s time to manufacture the finished product. These ends usually generate a lot of staring on the mold and are prone to make each piece weak by causing second-hand effects such as warpage, cracking, or strain marks. Stress in the mold is not something uncommon, after all, they do have a limited lifespan, but sharp ends will compromise the integrity of the mold, and your manufacturing process is very likely to get more expensive if you need a second production run.
Keep the Thickness Factor of Your Design on Balanced Levels
This is probably the hardest achievement you can get on your product, and it can only be achieved by trial and error. Rapid prototyping can’t determine the right level of thickness on the walls of your casted mold, especially if you are working on a hollow design. A test run can allow you to determine just how much plastic injection you need to create your part. Beware though. This will take time, and maybe more than one try to get it right!