Existing and established OEMs typically turn to their contract manufacturers to produce their prototypes for new products, equipment, machinery, and components. For a startup OEM or for a small company without a current metal fabrication shop, finding a company for prototype fabrication is the first step in moving from design to production.
One of the critical elements to consider in a company for prototype fabrication is the availability of engineering services. At the very least, the company should be able to work with the files from your engineering and design team to set up the 3D model and the programs to be able to design and manufacture the prototype.
At the same time, look for companies offering prototyping services that also assist in reducing the cost of fabrication. Often simple and non-essential aspects of the design can be changed or modified to provide a stronger, more durable part at a lower cost of production.
Move from Prototype to Production
Another consideration when choosing a company for prototype fabrication is the ability of that company to move from designing and building the prototype into actual production.
Several of the top companies that provide prototyping to production also offer a range of additional types of services. These can be instrumental in reducing the time to production and the complexity of the supply chain by limited the number of outside companies involved in the production process.
Look for fabrication companies that can work on the prototype and also offer welding, machining, and finishing services in addition to fabrication. These companies may not do all of these individual aspects of the job in-house, but they work as project managers within a network of fully vetted subcontract services, eliminating a lot of time and project monitoring aspects of moving into full production.