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Prototype Manufacturing Services

LCTECH is a plastic parts injection molding manufacturer, from prototype to the final product. We provide product design and rapid prototyping, rapid tooling, and low-volume manufacturing services to support your product development needs at a competitive price. These services including custom CNC manufacturing, CNC prototype machining, CNC aluminum prototype, CNC plastic prototype, SLA plastic prototype, SLS plastic prototype, Vacuum Casting, rapid tooling, and Injection molding.

While each provides its benefits, knowing the inner workings of the technology, compatible materials, and typical applications will help you decide which rapid manufacturing technique is best suited for your plastic projects.

Different from other product design and prototyping companies, we also provide valuable advice for optimizing your plastic part design to lower the prototype cost as well as tooling and molding cost in mass production.

Prototyping process 

3D Printing Prototype

CNC Machining Prototype

Silicone Casting Prototype

DME MUD Injection Molded Prototype

Rapid prototyping is a collection of techniques, which can be used to rapidly manufacture a scale model of a physical part or assembly by means of utilizing three-dimensional computer-aided design (for short CAD) data.

The part or assembly is usually constructed with the help of 3D printing ( also known as additive layer manufacturing technology). 3D printing (3DP) is one of the rapid prototyping technologies on the basis of digital model files. It uses adhesive materials such as powder metal or plastic to fabricate objects using layer-by-layer printing.

In the late 1980s, the first methods for rapid prototyping came into being and then were used to produce a variety of models and prototype parts. Nowadays, they find wider usage in industrial manufacturing fields. If needed, this method will be beneficial to produce a relatively small number of high-quality parts without causing the adverse short-term economic benefits. 

Related surveys of  Rapid Prototyping technology begin with discussions of simulacra production techniques used by 19th-century sculptors. Up to this day, some modern sculptors utilize the progeny technology to produce exhibitions and sundry objects.

CNC subtractive manufacturing is a machining process in which a solid piece of raw material is carved into a desired 3D geometrical shape and size by using a controlled material removal process.

As with CNC subtractive methods, the computer-aided-design – computer-aided manufacturing CAD-CAM workflow in the traditional rapid prototyping process starts with the creation of geometric data, either as a 3D solid using a CAD workstation, or 2D slices using a scanning device.

For rapid prototyping this data must serve as a valid geometric model; That is, with no holes exposing the interior, its boundary surfaces are enclosed by a finite volume. Moreover, it does not fold back on itself. In other words, the object must have an “inside”. The model is feasible if the computer can identify whether that point in 3D space lies inside, on, or outside the boundary surface of the model. CAD post-processors will approximate the application vendors’ internal CAD geometric forms (e.g., B-splines) with a simplified mathematical form, which in turn is expressed in a specified data format which is a common feature in additive manufacturing: STL file format, a de facto standard for transferring solid geometric models to SFF machines.

To obtain the necessary motion control trajectories to drive the actual SFF, rapid prototyping, 3D printing or additive manufacturing mechanism, the prepared geometric model is typically sliced into layers, and the slices are scanned into lines (producing a “2D drawing” used to generate trajectory as in CNC’s toolpath), mimicking in reverse the layer-to-layer physical building process.

Today, the relatively perfect rapid prototyping is important in the field of plastic molding, which will save money and time by detecting design flaws and other issues in the design phase. There are two options for plastic molding. One is the optimum choice for those who need smaller part quantities often relevant to prototyping and the other a good fit for those who demand part quantities common in low-volume production.

Plastic molding prototypes can be produced quickly to meet the demands of tight development timelines. Prototypes can also be finely decorated to appear much like the final product available in the market use prior to the availability of production parts.

Moreover, it can also facilitate efficient and cost-effective evaluation of a part’s form.

The history and development of rapid prototyping originate from two main preceding techniques, namely topography and photosculpture. Originating in the 19th century, these processes were initially very labor intensive. They later are more popular in topography and metallurgy that are similar to some current processes of rapid prototyping. These two techniques lay the solid foundation for rapid prototyping.

Hideo Kodama from Japan and Charles Hull from the USA were the first to describe and develop a process and actual machines that were capable of printing in 3D and are considered the fathers of modern rapid prototyping.

In the year 1980, a lot of companies wanted to control their production costs and ensure product performance. As a result, it was necessary to test products without using a expensive tooling. And it should consumes much shorter time than with traditional techniques.

In the 1990s, the quality concept was proposed, which demanded the utilization of prototypes to validate the quality criteria of the product.

Finally, in the 2000s, with the booming economy and highly competitive market, it was increasingly urgent for companies to be the first to launch a new product on the market. This efforts was based on an extremely short design development process. All these require the development of machines and technologies for producing prototypes should be more and more rapidly.

During the financial crisis, giving the money saving into account, there are dramatic decrease in the number of prototypes produced for the development of a product. However, requests for certification and the need to test the products still require the use of prototypes. Thus, while the needs vary, they are always used in all works of life.

SLA 3D Printing and SLS are two widely used 3D printing technologies for plastic parts.

CNC Machining Services, Machined parts and Project Prototypes in as fast as 24 hours

CNC machining processes is a widely-used manufacturing process for plastic and metals. We provide various types of CNC machining services with a fast and cost-effective method for producing high quality for metal and plastic parts no matter what your demands or requirements are.

CNC Plastic Machining Prototype Services

In CNC plastic prototype machining, the part is manufactured by machining in the mass of a plastic block by CNC milling machines. In the process of CNC machining, heat will be generated, that would put the effect on the characteristic of plastics. In order to get qualified machined plastic parts, the first important is to use semi-finished products treated with internal stresses, the heat generated during machining process will lead to the release of internal stress, which results in deformation parts. For materials with high water absorption (such as nylon), dehumidification is needed before processing. The tolerance of plastic is bigger than metal, also plastic thermal expansion coefficient is much larger than the metal. So when machining plastics, these two factors must be taken into account.

  • Wide selection of the material for the plastic CNC prototype. Direct use of engineering plastic material such as ABS, PP, POM, PEEK, PC, PPS, PA and PMMA. The mechanical properties close to the injected part.
  • Wide range of CNC plastic prototype surfaces. After the CNC machining, we have to do polish to remove the rough edges and burrs. It is also possible to do high gloss polish, painting, printing, sandblasting and chrome plating on the surface.
  • The general tolerance for the CNC Plastic Prototype is ISO DIN 2768M for plastics.
  • CNC machining offers more potential for threads and undercuts

In conclusion, plastic CNC machining is suitable for unit production in the context of dimensional accuracy, surface finishes, and functional testing. When one big or complex parts is in need of CNC milling prototype. We will consider it to be split and glued together to reduce the manufacturing cost. 

Silicone Vaccum Casting is a copying technique used for the production of small series of functional plastic parts. Using two-component polyurethanes and silicone molds, Vacuum Casting is known for its fast production of high-quality prototypes or end-use products. Silicone molding results in high-quality parts comparable to injection-molded components. This makes vacuum casted models especially suitable for fit and function testing, marketing purposes or a series of final parts in limited quantities. Vacuum Casting also lends itself well to a variety of finishing degrees, and we can match the finish you need for your parts.

Prototype hand tooling is by far the most cost-effective means of injection molding a part. This option often comes in to play when the client is looking for a production quality prototype and/or the part could not be 3D printed in a material that provides the functionality needed for real world testing. While the initial tooling investment is rather low when opting for hand tooling, the per unit cost of each part is rather high. The reason for this is hand tooling options simplify the mold so much, the production of the part requires an operator to “hand” load the mold into the injection press and demold the part when the injection process is complete.

This is in contrast to a traditional production mold that operates on automatic and requires very little operator interaction to shoot good parts. Prototype hand tooling is the absolute best option when you are looking for the lowest up-front investment to receive production quality parts for testing and customer discovery before proceeding withproduction tooling.

LCTECH invested over 10sets DME MUD types Moldbase for prototyping tool, the inserts can be 3D printed by SLA or SLM for stainess steel. This will be save a lot costing for injection molded prototyping and small batch production.

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