The Engineerist: CNC Machining for Startups

Recently I was honored to be a guest blogger for Proto Labs to talk about my experiences using their services. I’ve used their products for mechanical prototyping and production development for nearly 10 years now, so had quite a few things to say. The article turned into a 3 part series called The Engineerist

I am a big proponent of Proto Labs and the use of CNC prototyping in general. Hardware development processes have improved tremendously in recent years, with costs and lead times continuously being reduced. However, there will always be a lower bound to how much these can be reduced, so it’s still important to find ways to minimize risks in your product development cycles as much as possible.

Having traditionally worked for startups, time and money have always been a scarce commodity, so it’s been imperative to use them as effectively as possible. Leveraging CNC machining services from companies like Proto Labs has significantly mitigated risk for mistakes and delays in a product launch due to their high quality and inexpensive prototyping capabilities.

Part 1: Mitigating Production Risk with Prototypes

In this first article, I discuss the general concepts of using CNC machining during the prototyping stages of product development, and how best to leverage their use to mitigate risk – particularly for startups.

Part 2: Fail Fast, Succeed Faster

Testing your product can get expensive, quickly – especially if it fails. In this article I discuss the benefits of using CNC machining to quickly test different designs at a much reduced cost, before submitting the final product for certification testing

Part 3: Designing with Moldability in Mind

One key element that has kept me as a devoted customer to Proto Labs is their dedication to education. Proto Labs recognized early on that the more educated their customers are, the higher the chances of success with their products. In this article I discuss how I used the free Design Aids made available by Proto Labs to educate a team of younger mechanical engineers about how to design parts properly for injection molding