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From Sketch to Prototype
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From Sketch to Prototype






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  • Tonight we would like to give you an overview of how to turn that product concept into a prototype. We will briefly touch on what we feel are important steps in this process for a successful entrepreneur From these steps, we will point out where you should start, who you can turn to for help, and what can be done with today’s modern manufacturing techniques
  • Most of this you should already know but we thought it important to put our 2 cents in based on what we have seen We will review what feel is important and easily achievable for market research, obtaining patent protection, developing a business plan, identifying potential funding sources, and producing a functional prototype
  • Our favorite places to see “what is out there” are e-bay and Amazon. The huge array of products offered, with customer comments, pricing information, and comparison tools is a powerful tool to get an overview of the marketplace To dive deeper, you can utilize the Thomas Register which is a business directory by industry & product offering which can help you identify competitors, suppliers, and potential partners for your venture Locating the trade organizations relevant to your product will help you gain insight into the standards and lingo associated with your product
  • If you want to go after venture capital, we feel it is critical to have patent protection in place. Venture funds need this as a guarantee that you have a novel idea which can't be “knocked off” once you get to market Use the US Patent Office to perform a basic search on your product to see if it is already protected. Try to determine the classification that best fits your product to narrow down your search Search the European Patent Office to determine if your product is already documented somewhere else in the world. Europe and Asia are very different than the US and ideas which are “new” here sometimes are already well known in other parts of the world. Spend the $500 - $1000 for a patent search to gain a better understanding of your potential for a successful patent
  • Make up a business plan...it's not hard Use it to talk to financial people about your plan. Solicit feedback and refine / revise it as you learn more about the process Don't make it overly optimistic. Make sure you have contingency plans laid out and an exit strategy. Seek help from someone other than Salt City Technical....we're engineers!
  • Be prepared to dig deep into your own pocket. Try to sell the idea to friends and family...if they won't buy in you probably will not get any further. Find a way to bring $100K to the table before you go to outside sources. You will need it. A patent will cost $5K - $10K. Entity formation and legal fees $5K, prototype development $5K - $20K, better prototype, etc... Lots of grants out there..but they don't hand it out to just anyone with an idea. Better if your idea is “Green”, “Biomedical”, or defense related. DARPA, X-Prize, and other unique opportunities exist but they rarely match your idea Venture Capital is hard to get! Do as much as possible up front before approaching them.
  • We think the functional prototype goes a long way in selling your idea to potential investors With today's manufacturing techniques, prototypes can be made in weeks for a fairly modest investment Making something in your basement doesn't generally add a lot of credibility to your project. Having a 3D rendering and matching functional and aesthetically pleasing prototype will Wow the investor.
  • You can now select from 1000's of components on-line and have them delivered to your door the very next day. Screws, sensors, motors, hoses, or just about anything is available from Industrial Supply vendors. These sites now include technical documentation on many of their components...dimensional drawings, electrical, thermal, and environmental performance, and applicable standards help you to identify the right product for your project Misumi offers “Configurable Components” which are manufactured on demand in 1000's of styles which can be customized to your specific project The electronics distributors offer everything needed to make circuits, automation control systems, wireless systems, or just about anything that uses electricity.
  • There are a wide array of prototyping techniques available today. Many systems directly link 3D cad data to automated machines which can produce the part with little or no operator intervention Flat stock parts (sheet metal, gaskets, plastic sheets, etc.) can be precision cut in any shape by a variety of means Intricate plastic parts can be directly 3D printed or rapid tooling produced in days to weeks Starting with round bar stock or flat plate, CNC machining centers can remove material in highly precise and intricate manners Rapid prototyping techniques exist for just about any product and these are now readily accessible to the casual user armed with the 3D cad data
  • Wire EDM (Electric Discharge Machining) is a method where electricity is used to create a spark which erodes the material (must be conductive). It has extremely fine tolerance control, can produce very fine surface finish. Laser Cutting – Well, you use a laser to cut something...no magic there. Makes very clean intricate parts in thinner metals Water Jet – A high pressure jet of water is used to cut through thicker materials. Electrochemical – A variety of techniques can be employed to etch away unwanted material leaving only the desired shape for thin intricate parts
  • SLA is the original rapid prototyping method for plastic parts since about 1990. It is still a very popular solution because of a wide array of materials available which mimic production materials commonly used. SLS is slightly newer and now dominates the market due to the “Desktop Printer” which is an affordable small scale solution. We lump a variety of different techniques into SLS (FDM, Ink jet , etc.). The end part has limited functionality but it visually similar to the end product. Different system have different pros / cons. Fast – So Fast – Most service companies will deliver your part in 3 days or less
  • Urethane Molds are the older means of rapid prototyping. A template must be made and then silicone is poured over to create a mold. Urethane can then be poured into the mold. Parts can be made in a few weeks with good visual properties and limited mechanical properties. Production molds for injection molded parts can range from $20K – over $100K and are time consuming to machine due to the hardness required for long term durability. An alternative to this is to product an aluminum mold which is easier to machine and produces parts for a limited number of shots. Aluminum molds might cost $5 - $20K depending on complexity.
  • We can now take a 3D model, have it analyzed and a set of tools and tool paths generated, which allow it to be machined from a single bar or plate while in a single machine. Threaded holes, keyways, slots, contours, and any other shape can be machined to precise tolerances across very large workpieces
  • Tonight we would like to give you an overview of how to turn that product concept into a prototype. We will briefly touch on what we feel are important steps in this process for a successful entrepreneur From these steps, we will point out where you should start, who you can turn to for help, and what can be done with today’s modern manufacturing techniques

From Sketch to Prototype From Sketch to Prototype Presentation Transcript

  • From Sketch to PrototypeThe BasicsWhere do I start?Who is going to help?What is possible?
  • The BasicsMarket ResearchPatent ProtectionBusiness PlanFunding SourcesFunctional Prototype
  • Market ResearchFind competitors & similar products:E-bay & AmazonThomas Register, HooversTrade OrganizationsMake note of:How much do people pay for similar products?Where do people buy this type of product?Are other products going to displace yours?
  • Patent ProtectionNo Patent Protection = No Venture FundingDoes it exist? (It probably does!)US Patent OfficeEuropean Patent OfficeClassification SystemProfessional Patent Search
  • The Business PlanYou should have oneIt will not match realityUse it as a tool to convey your idea of how this idea will make others money
  • Funding SourcesStart with Friends & FamilyGrants = Free Money (almost)SBIR, State, Local, SpecialtyVenture CapitalWant large investment with significant returnsNeed serious support documentation and greatpresentation
  • Functional PrototypeDifficult to obtain funding without proof of your conceptMuch easier & cheaper to produce than in the pastNeeds to function & look good to entice potential investors
  • Industrial SupplyWide array of components availableTechnical information on the componentsAdvanced search techniques to find right productMcMaster, Misumi, Kaman, GraingerAllied Electric, Digikey, Newark, Mouser
  • Rapid Prototyping TechniquesComplex flat stock parts Plastic PrototypesEDM SLALaser SLSWater Jet Urethane MoldsElectrochemical Aluminum MoldsComplex parts from Other Techniques bar/plate 4 Slide5-axis machining Printed Circuit BoardsCNC Integration Sand Casting Powder Metal
  • Flat Stock PrototypesWire EDM – Slow process for difficult materialsLaser – Fast process for thinner materialsWater Jet – Fast process for thicker materialsElectrochemical – For intricate small parts & tight tolerances
  • Plastic Prototypes3D PrintingStereolithography (SLA) – UV cured resinbuilds parts in thin layersSelective Laser Sintering (SLS) – Laserhardens powder resin in thin layersGood tolerances, complex parts, 1 – 3 days for samplesWide array of materials and finishes
  • Plastic PrototypesUrethane MoldsProduces parts with good appearanceLimited materials available, some limitationson part designAluminum MoldsProduces finished parts in any materialLower cost / durability tooling compared to finalproduct tool
  • Parts from Bar / PlateToday’s machining centers can manufacture complex parts in a single setupParts modeled in 3D can be directly converted into tooling path informationMulti-tool systems allow for rapid machining of a variety of shapesWide array of raw materials availableVertical, Horizontal, Lathes
  • Other Techniques4 Slide Produces bent metal shapes from strip No tooling costPrinted Circuit Boards (PCB) Pick & Place Technology Produced in 1 – 2 weeks Flexible, multi-layer, mixed components
  • Other TechniquesSand Casting Cast aluminum, iron, & other materials available from 1 master templatePowder Metal Produces near net shape parts Almost as good performance to wrought steel Significant tooling costs in some cases
  • Final Thoughts...From Sketch to PrototypeKnow The Basics Research, Planning, Funding, PrototypingStart with what you know Get help for what you dont knowThe help The Tech Garden, University support, local support – TDO...If you have a good idea...anything is possible