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From Prototype to Production: Finding the Right Solution

You have an excellent idea for a product you plan to make out of steel, aluminum, or another metal. With it, you are sure you have solved an age-old problem and want to take it all the way: from prototype to production. 

Or maybe you have found the missing piece that will make an existing product better. You have invented a brand-new “next big thing” and are ready to turn your idea into a finished product. 

Large companies and individual inventors know that the next step may be to team with a full-service metal fabricator. And many of them call Elemet Manufacturing Inc. 

Elemet Manufacturing can help you take your product from prototype to production. We specialize in metal turning services for clients throughout the United States. Contact us today! 

Object printed on metal 3d printer

What is a prototype?

Maybe you already started with computer models or technical drawings. Or you made a paper model. Or perhaps your product is still just a sketch on a napkin. 

Now you want to turn your rough idea into something tangible. The next critical step is to make a prototype. 

You can put a prototype in your hands. You can try it, test it, and push it to its limits. You can confirm that it will perform well under the stress of real-world conditions. 

A prototype can help you determine if your concept needs slight refinements or a significant redesign. It will help you decide whether a project is worth taking to market at all. With a prototype in hand, you can also start preparing your packaging and marketing materials.    

Choosing a prototype fabricator

When ready to make a prototype, you want to ensure the facility you choose to manufacture the product has the appropriate tools. Options may include a metal fabricator for cutting pieces, another for bending, and yet another for welding. 

You may want to consider a one-stop-shop! With many options, it is essential to choose a fabricator that is right for your project. Let’s cover some important questions to ask when selecting a prototype fabricator. 

Aluminum profiles, bronze, copper trimming tubes and casting residues

Ask your potential prototyping partners these questions:

1- Does the metal fabricator have on-site designers who can create CAD files and 3D models from your thumbnail sketch? Or do you need to get that done somewhere else? 

If you do not have in-house designers, can your fabricator prepare the necessary data for CNC machines and other computer-guided equipment?

2- Does the fabricator work with the right kind of metal? A shop specializing in steel bar stock is not necessarily going to know how to make your prototype from sheet aluminum or copper round stock. 

And the metal you have in mind may not be the best option available. Can your fabricator make recommendations that will make a better product?

3- Are the right tools available? There are many different ways to cut, bend, and weld metal. And different types of metals require appropriate tools.  

Does your prototype need to be milled with a CNC lathe? Can it withstand the heat of a plasma cutter? Or is a low-temperature waterjet cutting process better? Can your product be cut into its final shape, or will you need to form or bend it with a brake press? 

What is the best way to assemble or weld components together? You will need a facility with all the tools and expertise to help you choose the best options based on your product’s design and function.

4- Does the facility have the capacity for a fast turnaround? You will need to quickly get your prototype made so that you can put it to the test and make design adjustments. You may need to build a second prototype unit or even a third. 

No matter how many times you go back to the drawing board, you need the facility to accurately and efficiently handle each stage of your prototype project. You may want to avoid a small machine shop that can work on only one project at a time.

5- When the product is ready to go to market, can the metal fabricator become your manufacturing partner? It could be too costly or cumbersome to manufacture your product in-house. 

Also, sending manufacturing outside the USA could make quality control a more daunting task. A more accessible fabricator who already knows your product may be the best outsourcing solution.

Working process cutter parts by waterjet cutting machine

Elemet is the answer.

Fortunately, Elemet Manufacturing can provide all the services you need under one roof. Precision Waterjet Concepts (of Pequot Lakes, Minnesota) and Aitkin Iron Works (of Aitkin, Minnesota) created Elemet Manufacturing, Inc. in 2020. 

With our combined expertise, we provide complete design and fabrication services. Clients all over the USA count on Elemet to do the job right.

Our expert staff can assist you to polish your product concept. We can help you choose the most suitable metal stock and work with steel, aluminum, titanium, and several other metals. 

We can cut, bend, form, weld, and assemble your prototype using the most efficient tools and methods for your product. Does it need painting? We can take it to our sister company Minnesota Industrial Coatings to give it a powder coat or e-coat finish. 

If the prototype reveals design flaws, we can help you troubleshoot and revise until everything falls into place. 

Beyond the prototype

When you are ready to take your product to market, let us become your manufacturing partner. With our large facility and expert staff, we can serve multiple clients while still providing a fast turnaround. 

We have the capability of working on several manufacturing stages simultaneously. Our customizable assembly process makes cost-effective use of our facilities and staff.

Let us get your prototype started.

Find out if Elemet Manufacturing is the right partner for your next metal prototype fabrication project. Contact us through our website today. 

We will help you match our services to your needs and provide you with a quote for producing one prototype unit or thousands of finished products. Our team will be with you for the whole process from prototype to production to make your product idea come alive.