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Prototyping for Production FAQ

prototyping components

When it comes to designing and developing your components, developing a prototype is one of many critical steps towards successful program launch and efficient mass production.

How do you determine which prototyping route to utilize?

With 3D printing on the rise, choosing a metal prototyping option may seem like a matter-of-fact decision. However, you’ll want to start at a very basic, foundational level and determine the cost impact of a variety of factors in order to achieve better long-term results.

The geometry, size, and quantity of your end component will be the three biggest factors that determine which prototyping process will make the most sense, because these three factors drive the cost. Certain features and properties are going to lend themselves to one process or the other. And finally, you need to determine if your prototype will act solely as proof of concept for your design, or if want a fully functional part to test in real-world applications.

two men looking over component

Don’t worry; our team of engineers can help you determine the best prototyping option for your project. Contact our team today.

What if I’m trying to decide between a few different alloys for my part?

The prototyping stage is an excellent point during design and development to test different material options for your component. At Signicast, we can run through multiple material options when you prototype with the investment casting process. For example, Signicast engineers can run 3D printed patterns for prototypes in place of the traditional wax pattern. Using this process, our engineers print multiple patterns to run through different molds with different alloys to help you determine the right end-game alloy as it relates to mechanical and physical properties of your component.

What is the typical lead time for tooling and fixtures?

With Signicast’s in-house tool room, we build the tool and the fixtures concurrently. Our tooling room runs just like our foundries: two 12-hour shifts, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are no lapses in time. Since we don’t defer to an outside source to build our tools, we quote standard tooling lead times of three to five weeks.

Does Signicast do in-house production machining or just machining for prototyping?

We do both. We have a very expansive machine shop at our Hartford, Wisconsin location. In the shop, we have three, four, and five axis machining centers with a wide variety of capabilities. Request a plant tour to see it for yourself!

signicast machining

Will there be differences between parts off a manual tool and parts off a full mass production tool?

Typically, no. With a manual tool, we are limited to how fast we can inject parts, so the only notable difference is the speed of injection. With a fully productionized tool, we are able to take advantage of the automated presses and the robotic part removal that is associated with a fully-fledge investment casting run. If your prototyping project has higher volumes, you will gain more efficiency with a productionized tool environment.

What kind of non-destructive testing (NDT) processes are available for investment cast prototypes?

At Signicast, we can do a variety of NDT testing procedures, including but not limited to these tests and procedures:

  • Fluid penetrant injection (FPI)
  • Mag particle inspection
  • X-ray
  • Test bar
  • Dimensional scanning
  • Coordinate measuring (CMM)

Whatever your testing requirements, whether it’s on the printer or post production, we have sources and capabilities in-house to deliver a functional prototype to your doorstep.

Fully functional metal prototypes

We know that finding a supplier who can constantly and consistently deliver effective prototypes can make or break your business. With investment cast prototyping, you do not have to compromise quality for time or cost. To learn more about how you can utilize the investment casting process for prototyping, download our free on-demand webinar.

Fill out the form below to download our free on-demand webinar. 



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Last updated 02.03.2022