A metal prototype is an object used as a sample or model for a new product. The prototype allows manufacturers and designers to turn an idea or concept into a physical item. This item can then be used as part of the product development process, allowing for testing, display, or further design work. While these prototypes can be made from many different materials, carbon steel, sheet metal, brass, copper, and bronze are among the most widely used.
Metal prototypes are used in a wide variety of industries. They can be used to build models of new buildings or bridges in the construction industry, or sample cars or trucks in the automotive field. Manufacturers also use metal prototypes to create samples or test models of new tools, fasteners, electronic devices or household goods. The manufacturer can use the prototype to test and refine the new tool before full-scale fabrication and manufacturing begin.
A metal prototype can take many different forms, depending on the goals of the developer. It may simply act as a physical representation of the proposed object, with no actual function. Some prototype models may be fully functional, and may perform exactly the same tasks or actions as the proposed object. For example, a metal prototype for a new hand-held drill may simply consist of hollow casing, which can be used for physical and design testing. It can also contain a motor and other parts that allow it to be used exactly as the final object will be used.
The fabrication process for these prototypes begins with design, which may be done by hand or on the computer. The prototype developer often transforms the design into a wax casting, which is presented to the manufacturer for further design and approval. Once the manufacturer approves of the sample prototype, a full-scale model is created using a metal casting process. A ceramic mold is built, then hot metal is poured in to take the shape of the mold. Metal prototypes can also be made from sheet metal, which is cut, bent or formed to take the desired shape.
Metal prototypes offer many advantages to manufacturers. They can be used to test design or functionality, allowing the manufacturer to refine the product before production begins. They can also be used to get investors or potential buyers excited about the new product, or to give manufacturers a clear picture of how the product should be produced. Many product developers will produce more than one metal prototype as part of the product development process, which provides additional opportunities for changes and refinement.