3D printing - models and prototypes

Prototyping is an essential part of custom designed and made products. You may have a product idea already being designed or you may be at the early concept stage. A prototype will be a very useful tool to evaluate your idea in performance, cost and marketability. Prototypes are essential to avoid expensive manufacturing set up and delivery of products that have deficiencies in the design due to lack of prototype testing.


I am able to deliver models and working prototypes using materials such as sheet metal, metal castings, batch injection mouldings and others. The materials and processes are selected to simulate those to be specified for full production.


I deliver evaluation models, test pieces and fully working prototypes. I generate STL files for the purpose of rapid prototyping in SLA or SLS methods. I also organise prototypes in CNC machined plastics and metal, sheet Steel, Aluminium and other metals as well as fabrications in various materials. Added to this, my file conversion software allows me to provide files such as DXF, IGES, Autocad DWG and others, depending on the file formats that each manufacturing subcontractor is able to accept. Thus, development times and costs are greatly reduced.


Of course a major development today is that of 3D printing. Several of the models and prototypes I deliver to the Clients are made by this method in plastics, metals, ceramic and even wax.


 What is the difference between an evaluation model and a prototype?


A model is a physical representation of the product shape and configuration to evaluate it from an appearance and 'perception of the product' point of view. It can be a smaller scale model (like a boat) or it can be full size (like a mobile phone). Never an enlarged scale – it would be pointless. The model does not function as the product will do, for instance, a model of a mobile phone will not have the electronics.


A prototype is a fully or partly functional representation of the product. It is intended to check the product performance (for instance, is a lemon squeezer, with its shape design really going to extract the juice and b comfortable to use). It is always full size and it needs to be made wit materials as close to the materials intended for manufacture as possible or it will not be representative.


Both models and prototypes can be made highly finished to look like production units. All the items in the photos below are models and prototypes. You would think that many of them are production units.

3D printed prototype parts

assembled parts

internal components

wooden model

wooden model

GRP prototype

wooden model

GRP and metal prototype

3D printed parts

assembled parts

appearance model

testing prototype

prototype with electronics

3D printed parts

painted 3D printed parts

3D printed & painted prototype

prototype and moulding

prototype and moulding

sheet metal and machined plastic

3D printed

3D printed and finished

investment casting

3D printed and painted

machined steel prototype

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wooden model