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Thread: "Prototype shop"
12-31-2010, 03:11 PM #1
What does it mean when someone says that they have a "prototype shop"?
Does it mean that they sometimes dabble with machines in their garage? Or what?
12-31-2010, 03:23 PM #2
It could mean they have a rapid-prototyper or two.
It could mean they have intellectual property in development, but they despise the word "inventor", or all the questions to follow.
It could mean they can tell you what they are working on, but then they would need to kill you.
It could mean that the guys with the dirty hands are the guys with the ideas, or the two groups get along with each other, to the point of "hey, hey, I've changed my mind, what I really need......" doesn't irritate anyone.
It could mean that every change order is billed, because most projects are an endless series of change orders, and somebody is going to pay for that.
12-31-2010, 03:43 PM #3
To me it's a shop that will make one of something (low quantity). They'll figure out how to make it. They might help on the design so it can be made.
For example, A guy I know runs his one man shop and makes medical device parts for a few companies around town. Sometimes it's billed at time and materials because odd ball parts are hard to quote.
Some shops like ours run both production and prototyping, but it's all for in house use. A lot of companies have a "prototype shop" built in. They might also call it and R&D shop. Could be small with only basic tools or it could be huge. It's a big advantage for our company go be able to get prototypes built and tested very quickly.
12-31-2010, 03:55 PM #4
Well, yes, I dabble with machines in the garage on occasion, but it also means that I can produce a complete prototype of an electro-optical-mechanical device in a very short amount of time, with minimal guidance, and test it. That can include graphics and manuals as well, but I'm probably odd in that regard. My guess is I can do it for less $$ than if someone went to multiple specialists. OTOH, the minute Q is more than a few, I'm not set up for it and it needs to be jobbed out.
My guess is most prototype shops are really saying they don't cater to huge orders that they have to fit you in around, so the service is reasonably fast, and they've figured out how to do small quantities efficiently so it doesn't cost a fortune and they can still stay in business.
12-31-2010, 04:34 PM #5
"Prototype shop" means whatever the owner wants it to mean.
It could mean what the OP suggested. A shop that's a trial start up, as in a "prototype" of a real shop.
It could mean a shop that builds prototypes. That's one thing my shop did for a number of years. So, I thought we were a prototype shop, until a customer wrote a trade mag article on a medical product we'd developed for them and called us "model makers".
12-31-2010, 05:11 PM #6
A prototype shop usually works on low volume, non-repeating jobs. They may have repeating customers, but the job itself is a one-off, hence a prototype. It also classifies shops that specialize in low volume production, jobs that repeat seldom or rarely and are comprised of small volumes. A small volume can vary, depending on the complexity of the part.
For parts that are dead simple and quick, a small volume might be 1000 parts. For parts that are simple in design, but very tight tolerance or fine surface finish, small may mean 10-200 parts.
Prototype shops vary from 1 man (common) to small business (maybe a half dozen). When you get to more than a half dozen, you tend to specialize or cater to a specific industry and not provide general machining capabilities. For instance, WEDM shops generally don't call themselves a prototype shop, even when they are one person. Welding shops generally don't call themselves prototype shops. Prototype conveys breadth and quantity. Generally a prototype shop will have skills ranging from welding to engineering, and the ability to produce a wide variety of machined and fabricated items.
12-31-2010, 05:57 PM #7
I just figured it was a big word for "Job shop"
12-31-2010, 06:38 PM #8
I would say a shop that specializes in one offs.
12-31-2010, 08:28 PM #9
I always thought the prototype was a product that wasn't in it finished state to be sold to the customer or final purchaser.
There are some big factories that call their model shop a prototype shop.
When they are working on a new "refrigerator" they build models or prototypes to test (destroy).
They keep making them with modifications until they have the quality they need and are in the right price range for production.
After the final prototype is made and passes, they set-up and mass produce these items.
That's just my observation. Maybe it's a different interpretation elsewhere?
01-01-2011, 02:39 AM #10
In my world, prototype generally means parts for testing & development, inferring that there will be modifications to the design. Our in-house prototype shop does just this, anywhere from 1 part to 600 parts, all for testing & development or pre-production test builds. There may be as many as 6 different versions of the same product in manufacture at any given time and you may go through 10 or 20 iterations to get to the final product.
01-01-2011, 07:47 AM #11
Prototype Model Shop was the term used from the late 70's until the mid 90's, now it's only Prototype.
These shop usally get the parts that only requier 1 to 5 parts in a mulitude of materials from foam to titanium and now usally have some sort of Rapid Prototype capabilities, sand paint finish, RTV rubber molds casting urithane multibles
Believe it or not there are 3 schools that have degree programs in Prototype Model Making.
I have an Associates in Prototype & Design from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College went from 83-85 and has been a program since 1967.
just a tidbit
Industrial Model Making program at Northwest Technical College
BSU 2010-11 Undergrad Prototype Engineering Technology Major, B.A.S.
01-01-2011, 08:07 AM #12
Anything else is just a misuse of the word.
If I (or anyone else) had an idea and couldn't do or make it themselves for whatever reason, then you get in touch with someone or a company that can help. I've never heard of any company that would give themselves that name without being more specific than just "Prototyping Shop" as it's impossible to be really good at everything. An R&D department in a company would invariably make prototypes.
A prototype isn't production or a one off. It's making something to see if it works as it should before (if ever) putting it into production.
I know a company (they make dies that mass produce plast and plastic components) that has a couple of rapid-prototypers but this is mainly used by companies (customers) to see if the intended parts will be as wanted before offering a small fortune on having the dies made.
Would I fly in a prototype? Bloody 'ell no - that's what test pilots get paid to do
01-02-2011, 01:37 PM #13
I considered (and still do) my shop a "prototype" shop. I have non-production CNC's (ProtoTRAKs), and I worked closely with engineers on making their machine parts for their project 'build'. As others have mentioned, rarely was it repeat work, and it was a lot "crap" work that regular shops weren't interested in quoting because it was a onesy, which makes it sort of risky.
It's pretty much modeled after the institutional 'model shop' I worked in prior to starting my own shop.
01-02-2011, 01:52 PM #14
I'd say that the vast majorities of one offs aren't prototypes but simply that no more than one piece is required. If it is made as a test or a project then I'd consider it a prototype. I'd never think of a prototype as something to be sold as a finished or final product. Agree or disgree?
01-02-2011, 05:08 PM #15
Prototype - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The vast majority of what I've made over the years (individual parts or assemblies) was to test "proof of concept" from an R&D standpoint. Prototyping by my definition.
01-02-2011, 05:33 PM #16
I make alot of one off custom mtorcycle parts, rims, gips, floorbaords, pegs, brackets and many other functional parts. What is a peice of furniture that was custom made? a prototype or production never made again?
What is a injection mold tool? prototype or production, you only make one, but shoot thousands of parts out of them?
Have sold many other one off's from customers that need only the one and will never have another made again.
Prototypers/ModelMakers/Jack of All Traders are usally the guys who have a well rounded knowlege or experences in many types of mediums or forms of manufactuing as well as designing to help their customers get what they need.
01-02-2011, 10:31 PM #17
01-02-2011, 10:55 PM #18
01-03-2011, 06:24 AM #19
Back ten, fifteen years ago when I was doing a lot of "prototype" medical work a good many of the projects were for show only. They were meant only for presentations to venture capitalists. This was not for functional proof of concept (also did that too). Was that "prototype" work?
One memorable project was an implantable device for heart parents. Part was done and delivered. I got a call at home 1:00 AM Monday morning from the engineer telling me he'd made a mistake and given me the wrong drawing for a stamped stainless housing, it didn't match the artist's rendering of the product.
Rush to the shop and redo the crude stamping die, new part quickly made. Call the metal finisher/polisher guy to get to his shop to do his thing. All happened in a couple hours. Part delivered before 7:00 AM.
OOPS, still the wrong drawing. By this time we were all wide awake and in rapid response mode. Correct part was done before noon, well in time for the late afternoon presentation to the money people.
Those were hectic times working mostly by myself, but I sure made a lot of money and there was a lot more that I didn't have time to make. No bidding, just make the parts, charge whatever you want.
01-03-2011, 06:55 AM #20
I've made for example rotating caliper stands for holding my products at exhibitions but I'd never regard them as prototypes. If someone decided to copy them then they'd probably regard mine as a prototype for making them.
In my opinion a prototype is a forerunner (and the process of getting all the kinks sorted out) for what might actually be a sellable or useable product or products.
Before Edison came up with the light bulb he tried hundreds and probably thousands of ideas before coming up with the one we all know. All previous ones were prototypes
I'll repeat, who would buy a car or fly in an airplane knowing it was a "only" a "prototype"?
The automobil industry tests and smashes a hell of a lot of prototypes before releasing the final model on the market.