Flexible solutions for prototyping and product development

Marcus Schneck, CEO of Norelem, explores the standard components that are already available to the engineering and manufacturing industry, that can push forward the creation of flexible solutions and facilitate prototyping and product development.

The engineering and manufacturing industry is moving at an increasingly fast pace, due to the continuous strive to make product development and prototyping more flexible and therefore, more efficient.

Every field of manufacturing uses the concept of prototyping, which is a somewhat broad phrase. However, in the engineering product design context that we will be exploring, a prototype is a preliminary version of the end-product, which are used to evaluate the design, test the technology, analyse the working principle, and provide final product specifications. Engineering product design and, more significantly, new product development both require the use of prototypes.

Recently, the industry has been adopting a style of prototyping dubbed ‘rapid- prototyping.’ Rapid prototyping is a relatively new term, it entails creating a prototype quickly for the purposes of evaluating a part, or the features of a part, from a visual and functional perspective. Sometimes, individual parts are rapidly created separately and assembled to test the prototype product. And this is usually achieved through 3D printing, which actually first came into prominence as a way of making prototypes quickly.

3D printing amongst most other rapid prototyping solutions, although a viable solution for design purposes, does not provide the material properties to truly test prototypes for their given uses. This is where standard components can be used to further enhance the product design process.

Our customers predominantly work in areas such as maintenance, toolmaking, and special machinery. The workers in these industries have specific needs when it comes to the product development process; needs that cannot be fulfilled by rapid prototyping processes such as 3D printing. Standard components, on the other hand, are readily available and quality compliant, making them the ideal solution for prototyping.

As an industry leading standard components manufacturer, Norelem offers services that make the ordering of standard components better suited to the product design phase than other providers, including the provision of CAD data and supporting technical information amongst many others. In addition, all products have short delivery times, which facilitates a fast construction process from design to completion.

So, why should you choose standard components for the prototyping process?

As mentioned before, the most customer needs cannot be met by rapid prototyping processes. However, this is not to say that standard components should only be used as an alternative. In fact, we would argue that there are many reasons why standard components should be used even in situations where solutions such as 3D printing would be a suitable solution.

All of Norelem’s common standard components have been designed to increase efficiency and flexibility in the development of prototypes. Therefore, a lot of these components are single articles that can easily be incorporated into a larger existing assembly or can be used in conjunction with each other to create an entirely new one. Additionally, all of Norelem’s standard components can be modified when customers have special wishes, for example, a different thread length on a clamping lever. However, all components can be modified, whether it’s changing the colour, the length, or other product attributes as well.

Moreover, all of Norelem’s standard components are of extremely high quality. This means they are unlikely to break or deform under the stress of testing. This also means that the products have a long lifetime and can therefore be used multiple times for different prototypes, which makes standard components both more sustainable and economical. In fact, some may purchase products with the sole intention of them being used to make prototypes.

Furthermore, when used in conjunction with the accompanying technical documentation and assembly instructions, Norelem products offer a reduced downtime and therefore a lower energy consumption. In order for prototyping by use of standard components to be more efficient, the products have to be used correctly in the first place.

Selecting components to ensure flexibility

When deciding on which standard components to purchase, engineers should first consider whether the components can be adapted to the requirements of the prototype. This includes the material of the products too.

Norelem standard components are available in a variety of materials, which ensures that the customer can find whatever material is perfect for their needs. For example, A4 quality stainless steel components can be used for saltwater applications, while standard components in ceramics will perform even in high temperatures.

This flexibility when it comes to materials provides a clear price advantage for customers. It offers customers the option to save on the components that will perform with less expensive materials, so they can opt for the more costly components where the choice of material is of paramount importance for the performance of the prototype.

The importance of the standard component’s material largely depends on the application that the component will be used for. In some cases, a strong and durable material like steel will be required, while in other cases a more cost-effective material such as plastic might suffice.

Make your life easier

Despite rapid prototyping solutions becoming more and more commonplace in the development of prototypes, standard components have their place in the prototyping process.

Norelem’s standard components provide the high quality, flexibility, and durability expected of a final product, and so it stands to reason that they would be used in the make-up of a final product too.

norelem Ltd

Innovation Centre
1 Devon Way
B31 2TS

+44 (0)121 222 5320



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