How Does a Sheet Metal Fabrication Prototype Work?

In the world of designers, it has become a normal thing for clients to request a prototype of a product. As a designer, your job is to deliver promptly with the right specifications.

It is also common for clients who need their prototypes quicker to contact any rapid prototyping company they can find or they can choose a freelance designer who is capable.

The point is that production is not what it used to be. Organizations and individuals now want to carry out any project want a prototype for whatever product they wish to work on.

While clients keep asking, designers continue to provide them with physical models just as they requested.

Since it has been noticed that people understand physical models better than drawings, 3D prototyping has taken over the manufacturing industry by so doing, saving time and money.

But what about metal sheet prototyping? What is it and how does it work?

A Sheet Metal Prototype

A 3D printer is a major tool used in the creation of a sheet metal prototype. It is important to note that 3D printers are faster when creating a prototype. They are also cheaper to create with 3Dprinters.

If you compare the speed and price to the injection molding or CNC tooling machine, you will notice how much difference there is between them.

Materials For Prototyping

Many metals can be used to prototype a sheet metal. Please note that some may be more expensive than others.

These numerous materials that can do the job also have various grades. Some of these materials are:

  • Aluminum
  • Galvanized steel
  • Cold-rolled steel
  • Galvannealed steel
  • Stainless steel
  • Copper
  • Brass

While you are contemplating the material, you want to use for your sheet metal prototype journey, you should also remember that these sheets are usually made as a single piece.

You need to make sure that the thickness for each part is uniform. Make sure you do not weld to thicknesses together.

While still in your process of choosing what material of sheet metal you wish to use, you should consider the final production run.

Picking out the right material is crucial to the integrity of the finished product. You also need to consider the environment.

Since you know that the environment where the prototyping process happens plays a role in the integrity of the product, makers should consider the environment.

Choosing a material can be easy when you know what to search for and what you should be worried about.

Do not forget to consider the mechanical properties of the material as well as its cosmetic appearance. The variety of materials available for the job can also be overwhelming.

Every potential entrepreneur in the field should look at the bends, angles, and related tolerances. These will tell you how much work is still needed.


When you understand what work needs to be done, it will prompt the push for a prototype to be made and used to test and know how useful the product will be.

Should you go for a 3D CNC Prototyping technique?

The processes involved in rapid 3D printing have become more adequate in recent years. While a lot of these processes are competent, we will be focusing on only one of them for this article. The different rapid prototyping techniques will allow you to make your prototype fast. However, they all have preferential uses or applications. We will be singling out CNC prototyping as an essential rapid prototyping technique.

Getting to know these preferential applications and uses could save one a ton of money. More than that, time and quite a few resources could be saved. Once one is properly acquainted with the intricacies of these rapid printing techniques, they realize a vital truth. Using certain rapid printing techniques for certain jobs is nothing short of overkill.

3D Prototyping Technique Available

However, we will outline the few available 3D prototyping techniques before proceeding. This will help our readers to know what to look for when making further research. The techniques include but might not be limited to:

  1. CNC Prototyping
  2. Rapid Tooling
  3. Metal Casting
  4. Additive Manufacturing Technique
  5. Sheet Metal Printing

For this article, we will consider just one of them. We will now turn our attention to CNC prototyping technology and its benefits.

CNC Prototyping

CNN (computer numerical control) prototypes are made via a carefully controlled computer system. This system integrates human efforts and ingenuity with computer precision to function. The entire process is aimed at getting g or printing models of outstanding qualities and integrity. The use of CNC machines has gone a long way in modern-day manufacturing.

So far, the limits of the technology have not yet been discovered. That is of course within the realm of material or designs with definite shapes. After all, the term 3D in its name means that the printed models have to be in 3D. In simpler terms, the models would be viewable from all sides as well as top and bottom.

Are CNC prototyping and 3D printing the same?

However, CNC prototyping is quite different from 3D printing. Granted their final results are all 3D-created models. However, the two techniques employ different approaches to reach their aim. While 3D printers majorly use a kind of additive method, CNC machines do not. 3D printing usually involves stacking the “ink” materials to form a larger 3D shape or prototype.

The CNC prototypes are made by a more subtracting method. The material used is usually whole. A block shape of whatever material the person would like to use is first prepared. Then the CNC machines work by sort of carving the block into the desired 3D prototype.

An advantage of the CNC prototypes over other 3D rapidly printed models is that they are more compact. Because they are cut from a whole material, they have a higher structural integrity. They are more ideal for large-scale or factory 3D printing. They could work on various sorts of metals as well as plastics.


The CNC prototyping technique is the best choice when large-scale printing is required. Other techniques might still be effective. But this is more precise and prints more durable models.

Essential Information About Anodizing Aluminum

Aluminum is one of the strongest metals in existence. It is used in a wide range of applications. However, in most cases, anodized aluminum is applied in place of bare aluminum. ddprototype is one of the companies offering anodizing aluminum services. However, before you even consider hiring a company for the process, there are things you need to know about anodizing aluminum.

Essential things you should know about anodizing aluminum

Below are some essential things you need to know about aluminum anodizing;

What is anodizing?

Anodizing is a process used for changing the surface chemistry of metals and various types of substrates. The main point of anodizing is to protect the metal or substrate surface from issues like corrosion. Anodizing also helps enhance the aesthetic qualities of the metal. Using the right kind of anodizing material can also help the metal to resist scratching.

How do you need to prepare for aluminum anodizing?

Before you begin the process of anodizing, you first have to prepare the metal. You do this by cleaning the surface of the metal thoroughly. You can use an alkaline solution for this task. After cleaning it thoroughly, you also have to rinse it off properly. The preparation process does not end here. The top layer of the aluminum also has to be eliminated using chemical etching.

Also, once you have cleaned and rinsed it, you have to place it inside a bath of an electrolytic solution. Sulfuric acid is one of the most popularly used electrolytic solutions for this task.

What is the role of the electrolytic solution in anodizing?

The electrolytic solution is used to trigger an electrochemical reaction on the surface of the metal. The solution features a lot of positive and negative ions. The positive charge converts the aluminum into an anode.

On the other hand, the negative charge is attracted to the positive. The electrochemical reaction triggered results in the formation of pores on the aluminum surface. The pores are a result of the escaping of the excess positive ions.

The pores are typically formed in a geometrically regular pattern. As the reaction continues, the pores start to erode into the substrate, allowing the surface to combine with the negatively charged oxygen ions. This process results in the formation of aluminum oxide. The process through which this layer is formed is called passivization.

What is the role of aluminum oxide?

The aluminum oxide created on the surface of the metal is referred to as the barrier layer. This layer acts as a defense for the metal against further reactions with oxygen and other chemicals. This is the reason why anodized aluminum is resistant to issues like corrosion and rust.

Are there further treatments after aluminum is anodized?

After the anodizing process, the metal has to go through post-treatments or procedures. An example of such treatments is coloring. Most of these post-treatments roles are to give the metal some desirable properties to improve its aesthetic appeal.


Various industries carry out the anodizing process on aluminum and other metals. The anodized aluminum can be applied in a wide range of industries and products. For instance, it can be used for construction. Anodized aluminum is more durable than bare aluminum because of the improved resistance to damaging elements like corrosion.

The most common types of CNC machines

Machining is a mechanical cutting technology. It is used to remove materials from a workpiece by physical contact between the workpiece and a cutting tool. CNC machining uses computers to control the cutting tools and CNC machining parts. Here, we look at some common types of CNC machines. 

Types of CNC machines

The manufacturing industry is swarmed with a wide array of CNC machines. The most prevalent ones are;

1. CNC router machine

This is among the most applied used forms of CNC machines in the market. It is popularly applied because it is easy to use. This means that both learners and regular users can efficiently operate this type of CNC machine. This element can be attributed to the fact that it is built to precisely operate CNC technology and does not require human input.

In this type of machine, a router is used to produce slightly larger dimensions. The router works together with an in-built design. The two features collaborate in the cutting of wood and sheet metal. It is worth mentioning that the routers on this type of CNC machine are found in 3 axes.

In addition to the axes, the machine also comes with a rotary positioned at the workpiece. The simple design allows the apparatus to cut different profiles, and it can also be applied in 3-dimensional machining. CNC router machines are ideal for cutting intricate shapes.

2. CNC milling machines

CNC milling is one of the most common CNC operations. For this reason, CNC milling machines are very popular. They use computer controls to cut materials from a workpiece. They use simple mills, which receive their instructions from numerical codes fed into a computer.

3. CNC plasma cutters

These are machines that use a plasma torch to cut materials off a workpiece. These machines are applied for cutting heavy materials. Therefore, the most common materials used on CNC plasma cutters are steel and other types of metal.


EDM (Electric Discharge Machines) are intricate devices that can be applied to manufacture specific shapes within a particular material. This CNC machining technology uses electrical release to manufacture parts.

The materials used in this process are dispensed from a workpiece by applying a development of electrical releases. Two anodes are applied in this process. After the materials’ dispensing, the two anodes are separated and isolated by a dielectric liquid which receives a feasible electric current.

But note, using CNC electric discharge machines is not as easy as using the other machines on this list. For this reason, these types of CNC machines are not as popular as their counterparts.

5. CNC lathes machines

Lathes are used to develop accurate yet conical parts. Therefore, CNC lathe machines are used for turning centers when cutting tools. They are also applied for shaving off excess material elements. Therefore, CNC lathes machines are almost as popular as CNC router machines. Their wide application can also be attributed to the fact that they are straightforward to use, and they make authentic pieces.


Other than the machines mentioned above, there are several other types of CNC machines in the market. The machines differ depending on the form of operation and the type of parts manufactured.

Reasons Why Ddprototype Will Be Known In The Future

One of the most difficult parts of prototyping is getting a good company that’s able to deliver your needs the right way and at the right time. One of such companies that you can trust is DDprototype. You will want to take your design through the different processes of production while making sure that quality and product efficiency is maintained.

At, we let you explore and have access to one of the best Prototype designs that you can ever imagine. This is to ensure that you leave your consumers satisfied at the end of the day. In this short guide, we take you through the different reasons why we are the future of rapid manufacturing.

Reasons Why We Are The Future Of Rapid Manufacturing.

Below are some of the reasons why we are one of the leading prototype companies:

1. Knowledgeable

With the rate at which a lot of prototype companies are advertised, it would be hard to determine the right company for you to choose. That’s because most times, quack companies find a way to pay their way to positive reviews.

In the coming years, people will see the need to steer clear of such companies. During those times, we at ddprototype will be here to welcome them. We are always ready to implement our knowledge and several years of expertise in designing and developing top-notch prototypes of products.

2. Transparency

We all know how lots of firms, companies, or organizations are so fund of shielding viral information from the clients. This isn’t an ideal way to run any business as keeping your customer in the dark is a hideous thing to do. One of the things that ddprototype is most recognized for is our ownership and transparency policies. After designs and manufacturing, we offer unrestricted ownership especially regarding the IP or the product. In the future, this quality will be required from most companies and only a company such as ours will be able to deliver.

3. Right source for raw materials

Prototypes are as good as the main product and as such, should be treated alike. The type of raw materials used in creating it is meant to be from the right source. This is done to prevent complications that may arise from the design in a short time. So, before consulting a manufacturing company, endeavor to ask questions and learn where they source their materials from. Unfortunately, only a few companies can handle this aspect Properly. With ddprototype, you are sure to save a lot of money, time, and energy that could be wasted redesigning and remanufacturing.

4. The right customer service

A wide range of satisfied clients helps for the success of every company. This is because you get recommendations now and then without having to pay for it. Unfortunately, most companies do not understand this and this is why a lot of people are left disappointed. This is not the case with us as we have a list of highly intelligible individuals that are committed to serving you well at every point in time.

These and many more reasons are why ddprototype will get into the list of rapid manufacturing companies to look out for in the coming years.

Your Prototype Can Make or Break your Brand

The design of a product determines 75% of the cost of manufacturing it. Many engineers in prototyping companies focus on the aesthetics coupled with the visual appeal of product design without considering the realities of constructing products. It is costly to design the design concept, especially if it is not viable from a business’s angle. Rapid prototyping is the earlier version from which various forms of a product are developed.

How a Prototype Can Make or Break a Product

A prototype provides you with insight into the functionality of the product design while helping you make changes required regarding your products’ specifications.

Several innovators are forming and destroying their prototypes while brainstorming and tweaking them with the hope of developing a revolutionary product in the long run.

An initial product for a pilot test can have drafts of drawings on a paper, also known as a low-fidelity prototype.

High-fidelity prototypes entail the investment of a lot of time and money. Therefore, prototyping is an excellent way of identifying if the solution presented is ideal for the purpose. It could be for a website or hardware.

It could also be for software. Suppose you are a business professional or entrepreneur. In that case, you should begin from the outset by identifying an effective way of identifying the aspects you are working with before developing a product.

What to Do Before Product Development

a. Create Sketches

You may be tempted to use software to sketch things out or start by coding things, mainly if there is time.

Even so, it is highly recommended that you begin by using a pencil and paper prior to investing in a complicated prototyping tool. This will help you in identifying the key aspects that need special attention while doing the prototype on your machines.

When designing a new product from scratch, one of the first steps is often the most challenging, even though it sounds easy for some people. Solidifying the ideas by drawing can be a daunting task.

b. Have Specifications

After forming sketches, the next step is having specifications for your product. The 3D printing material and other practical tools like laser cutting coupled with CNC milling have changed prototyping businesses by easing entrepreneurs’ lives.

As an entrepreneur, however, you should design product specifications and then define its existing functionalities before using the tools to offer support.

c. Understand Your Target Audience

Before you create a prototype for your products, you should engage prospective customers to know their interests, coupled with their needs. Introduce the concept to them to help them establish if you are providing a solution to them.

Simultaneously, this should help them determine if what you are creating is a problem for them. At this juncture, the innovator can learn the importance of modifying a product where necessary.

Final Thoughts

An expert in creating prototypes can help your startup bring a new product into the market. By working with professionals, you can easily create a pleasing design solution coupled with a strong focus on reducing the entire manufacturing costs.

Why You May Want to Outsource Your Rapid Prototyping Projects

Whether you want to create high or low fidelity prototypes, you need to follow a procedure that gives you a complete picture of how the product will look and perform. Companies that offer rapid prototyping service for physical parts often want a fast process, and that is why they use a variety of techniques. However, there comes a time when such companies need to outsource such services. For example, if you do not have enough time to work on all the prototypes, the only viable option is to find an expert who understands how to do it better.

The Pros of Outsourcing Rapid Prototyping Projects

One of the most significant advantages of outsourcing rapid prototyping projects is the fast turnaround time. Sometimes, clients want their products to be fabricated fast, and that means that you will need an extra pair of hands to meet their demands. With outsourcing, you can divide the project into smaller parts and have them distributed to different experts. In addition to that, outsourcing ensures that you serve several clients simultaneously, regardless of the size of the projects.

More Creative Control

You will also enjoy outsourcing rapid prototype projects because it gives you more creative control. You will have more control of the way the projects are conducted because you have a team that is backing you up. For example, you can ask for their recommendations on various techniques and see how much creativity they add to your projects. If you are short of ideas, all you need to do is to ask the team to come up with ways of creating the prototypes, and you will end up with the perfect plan.

If you are looking for ways to expand your business, outsourcing rapid prototyping projects may be the best way to go. If your clients learn that you have enough resources to handle every stage of their projects, they will be willing to give you more business. Once they know that they can count on you to deliver the projects on time, they will not hesitate to contact you reach time they have a new project, and that is how your company grows. You will also notice that such clients will recommend you to their contacts so that you have enough work to keep you busy throughout the year.

The Cons of Outsourcing Rapid Prototyping Projects

Most outsourced rapid prototyping projects lead to low printing volumes because of lack of a breakthrough, especially with new clients. However, you can overcome this challenge through aggressive marketing, such as the use of word of mouth. In addition to that, outsourcing can lead to the inadequacy of resources. For example, you may have to spend time and money training your recruits before you can trust them with the projects.

In a nutshell, outsourcing rapid prototyping projects can help you to grow your business and provide fast services. However, you need to plan effectively and find the right experts to work with to avoid problems with your clients. Work with a team of experienced experts to get high-quality prototypes.

Different Kinds of Automotive Prototypes

An automotive prototype is used to show if a product can be made, the most suitable material for it, and its production equipment. It is a vital part of the process since it helps developers make new automotive products of good quality that attract stakeholders to invest and form a good customer base in the market. The automotive prototype plays a vital role in the designing and processing of cars. In this write-up, we look at the types of automotive prototypes.

Types of Automotive Prototypes

The safety of a car, its performance, and its development are dependent on the prototype. They include:

1. Design Validation Prototypes

Initially, designs are created virtually using computer-aided designs (CAD). A prototype is made to create a physical object using cost-effective techniques like plastic injection molding. It helps manufacturers achieve clarity, visualize the concept, and share it with investors.

2. Pre-Development Prototypes

They are more refined and smooth. They are made once a design is validated, and a stakeholder has shown interest in the product. At this stage (mule stage), the prototype is used to decide whether the item can be used and correct the design errors. Donor cars are usually provided, and their body is taken off. The product is then placed on the automobiles to check if it fits and reacts with the other parts.

3. Manufacturing Process Prototypes

Techniques such as CNC machining, metal stamping, and forming are used to determine the best method of developing the parts. The automotive prototypes easily spot any problems that may arise during production. There are many manufacturing processes, and the most cost-effective one is chosen.

4. Customer Testing Prototypes

They are used for customer testing during the production process. Dialog between the developer and consumer is crucial. Feedback from customers who plan to use cars is essential as it helps engineers pitch their ideas. They can also correct issues pointed out by the potential users and select the best material to be used for the final product.

5. Safety Testing Prototypes

The test carried out is known as Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA). The prototypes are taken through different situations to see how they behave in those respective situations. They are also placed in harsh conditions to show if they can withstand heat, water, etc. without causing any problems that may stop consumers from using the product.

6. Manufacturing Validation Build Prototypes

These prototypes are made last, as this is the final stage of preparation. They are very expensive and take a lot of time to develop them. They help in estimating how long the manufacturing process will take. The method of producing an object for market use is different from that of creating a functional prototype. It is a complicated process that needs high precision. The actual equipment and machines make the prototypes, and the final touches are done.

Bottom Line

Automotive prototyping is a vital process of the development of cars. Multiple automotive prototypes are always developed when a new product is being created. They are often refined to get the best design and methods of processing.

Things to Consider When Buying 3D Printers

There are different makes and models of 3D printers to consider. For instance, there are a consumer and industrial 3D printers. You can find some that handle materials such as ceramics and metals. No matter your intended use of 3D printing, you need to get the right machine.

Selecting Professional 3D Printers

Intended Application

Your end-use determines the functional requirements of the printer. Do you want to make prototypes? Is a great visual appearance or smooth surface important for you? Does durability matter? What about material properties? Maybe you want to create functional products that support the operations of your business, such as fixtures and jigs. These choices will influence the type of creality 3D printer you choose.


You should note that there is a link between the 3D printer and the material it uses. For instance, when you purchase certain 3D printers, your material options become limited. For instance, SLA printers use thermoset resins, whereas FDM/FFF printers use thermoplastics.

Even if the printers are using the same manufacturing technology, each is compatible with a certain set of materials. For instance, lower-end FFF printers can only use prototyping materials such as PLA. On the other hand, engineering-grade materials such as composites or nylon need adequate process control and higher processing temperatures. That means you can only use them with industrial-grade 3D printers.

Therefore, you should consider the materials you have access to before choosing a printer. Some printers provide dual extrusion capability. Therefore, you can print in different colors. Remember that some printers use only materials from the manufacturer. It is advisable to consider printers that can use a wide range of materials.


The minimum layer height and the smallest part size the printer can produce determine its resolution. For instance, nozzle diameter of 0.4 mm means that your printer cannot make details smaller than 0.4 mm. If you want parts with fine details, you should consider choosing laser 3D printers. That is because the spot size of these printers ranges from 0.1 to 0.2 mm.

The layer height is quite important as 3D printers manufacture parts by adding layers. However, a small layer height does not mean you will get better results. Most applications require default height. Although a higher resolution is important, it is not a guarantee of high-quality. If you are manufacturing large parts, you should use a large layer height and nozzle. That is because fine details are not critical, and when you increase the layer height, you can considerably reduce build time.


Since 3D printing involves the use of computers, the type of software you choose is quite important. Every printer comes with software or slicer for preparing CAD files. You should note that the capabilities of the slicer vary. For instance, some can allow automation and preset parameters.

You can also find 3D printing systems with tools that make monitoring, connectivity, and management easy. For instance, they can support Wi-Fi integration, sensors, and cameras. With such tools, you can print parts from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection. This is quite advantageous when managing multiple machines remotely.

Aluminum injection mold vs Steel Injection Mold- Which is better?

The old-age battle when it comes to injection molds will definitely be steel or aluminum injection mold. The debate is fierce and many manufacturing companies take one side over the other. However, what do you think? Are aluminum injection molds making better than steel molds? If you are confused, we might help you make a decision.

We will compare both molds by using several factors. We hope to find a clear winner at the end of the day. Even if we don’t, we hope things will be much clearer to you by then.

Aluminum Injection Mold or Steel Mold?

How much does each mold cost?

To produce either mold, you will have to spend some cash. However, which one requires less spending? When you consider the initial spending needed to be carried, there’s no doubt that the aluminum injection molds clearly have an edge here.

While this is true, it’s also important to look at the bigger picture. The final cost of each mold might change drastically when other factors are considered. For example, the estimated lifespan of each mold might require you to spend more on the aluminum injection mold.

However, on average, the aluminum injection mold is less likely to cost more than steel.

Which mold is suitable for low volumes?

Again here, the aluminum injection mold just comes out on top. Low-volume runs are always better suited to aluminum injection molds and this is not going to change anytime soon. The reasons for this range from lower costs to the production of more pieces.

I’d recommend that you make sure that you choose a material that matches the volume you intend to use. Some might just be better with the steel mold.

Which mold is suitable for high volumes?

The steel mold comes out on top here. Unlike low volumes, the steel mold is better suited for high volumes and more runs.

The advantage of using a steel mold here is that you get a final product that is sturdy and can last for a long time. All you have to do is to ensure that you carry out proper maintenance.

Which mold cools and heats up faster?

It’s obvious who wins this round. The aluminum just has the perfect material for heating and cooling off quicker. The steel mold is always going to struggle when it comes to this category. The faster your material can cool off, the faster the cycle time is going to be.

When you use aluminum injection molds, you should be able to have a much faster output than with steel molds.

Final Verdict

So what do we think? We think the aluminum injection molds are overall the best type of mold. However, there are circumstances where the steel mold might be better.

However, when considering the facts and the big picture, it’s almost impossible to see how the steel molds come out on top.

So if you are considering what type of mold to use, we would recommend that you use aluminum injection molds for your business. It’s just the better option if we are being completely honest.