The Relationship between Materials and Processing for Prototype Making
No matter what machines or devices you invent, you all need prototypes to demenstrate the project feasibility. But how do we manufacture a good prototype ? It not only requires the brilliant design but also more concern about the materials and processing technology. The best design, the best materials, the most suitable technology, the most strict inspection process, it leads to the best prototype component which assembled to the best prototype equipment. So today let us talk about the relationship between materials and processing for prototype making. www.2fprototypes.com 

Generally Speaking the materials are divided into 2 types:  Plastic / Rubber and Metal.  The rubber materials are rarely used only in some certain circumstances. For example rubber loop for sealing reinforcement, rubber cushion on chairs and so on. To the opposite, the plastic materials has a wide application scope. It has many different sorts. We often divide the plastic materials into 2 types:  Soft Plastic and Hard Plastic. The soft plastic doesn't mean its hardness is big or small but means it can be recycle used. Of course the hard plastic means it can not be recycle used.  

The hard plastic has limited sorts such as PU-Polyurethane, Epoxy Resin etc. Epoxy resin can be used as the outside protection layer of CNG-2 cylinder for NGV. The soft plastic has many different sorts such as PP-Polypropylene, PE-Polyethylene, PVC-Polyvinylchloride, PA-Polyamide equal to Nylon,  ABS, PEEK-Polyetheretherketone, PTFE, PC-Polycarbonate etc. Like the PPR pipes we used in house decoration, it is made of PP materials. The stuffing materials we used in diaphragm valve is PTFE. These soft plastic has a wide usage in modern industry. 

What kind of technology we will adopt to process these plastic materials ?  it depends on your application, using environment and technical requirement. For example if you only need 1PCS prototype and ABS materials, the color is White. So Vaccum Casting may be most suitable. But if you need 1000PCS, Vaccum Casting will be very expensive. Because casting requires high labor cost and low effeciency. The plastic Injection is suitable for the mass production in large quantity.  OK. Let us have a look at another example : If you require 1PCS prototype and PP materials, but the size is  a little big, CNC will be more suitable. 

As for the Metal materials, It can be divided into 4 types: carbon steel / stainless steel / Aluminum / Alloy. (1) Carbon steel is normal materials. But considering the using envrionment, many customers have additional surface treatment requirement such as matt or shiny nickel plating to reinforce the anti-rusting performance.  (2) The stainless steel is often used in prototype making and OEM manufacturing.  There are so many kinds of stainless steel. For example :  304/304L/316/316L/904/A193-B8 etc. 304 and 316 series are mostly used in many industrial fields. Of course CNC is the most suitable processing technology for these metal materials above. But if you have special requirement for the surface fineness and dimensional precision, MIM may be applied for this.  

(3) Aluminum is also used in prototype making. Among these aluminum materials, AL6061 is widely used especially in the fields of automotive part and medical equipment. If customer has no requirement for the Aluminum materials, we all recommend AL6061 to them. CNC and Pressure Die Casting can all be used to make it. (4) As for the Alloy materials, it depends on the customer's demand. CNC is also suitable for making it. 

The most important thing we need to mention : One kind of materials can be processed by several different kinds of technologies.  But the making cost may be different. So choosing the most suitable technologies can effectively low down the manufacturing cost.  
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