Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to get in touch 01452 386608


How can you help me get my prototype made?

The word ‘prototype’ is confusing! We used to think this meant only 1 or 2 parts and could only be achieved economically through Additive Manufacturing processes. Today, however, that is certainly not the case!

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What to do when the quantities rise?

There are times when the quantities of prototypes required rise well beyond the conventional 1 – 10 type range. This may be due to the type of evaluation that is required, the number of people involved, the fact that the design is still uncertain or that they are really production items! 

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What is the purpose of CAD and why do we need it?

3D CAD data is the gateway to exciting and transformative technologies such as simulation, 3d printing and CNC machining.

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Why is Design for Manufacturing important?

Design for manufacture (DFM) is incredibly important (even in additive manufacturing!) It’s all about taking full advantage of the selected manufacturing process whilst at the same time engineering the part(s) to suit the process and minimise cost.

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How can I make sure the data for my part is correct?

All manufacturing that we undertake utilises the 3D data supplied by the client, or is generated by ourselves if design is part of the service.

As such, ensuring that the parts go together and have been modelled at the correct tolerance, is as important as ensuring the tolerances are achievable by the process employed.

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Project Costs - nightmare or opportunity?

We have been involved in design and manufacturing at Plunkett Associates for thirteen years now, and a frequent question is “ how can I reduce the cost?” be it for prototyping, or production.

The usual strategy is to shop around looking for alternative suppliers, however there are some sound guidelines that can have far more impact on the cost than finding an alternative supplier.

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What can I expect from my prototype? Trends tips and pitfalls...

Choice is great but sometimes it slows us down.

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Thinking about prototyping?

The word ‘prototype’ is confusing! We used to think this would mean only 1 or 2 parts and could only be achieved economically through Additive Manufacturing processes. Today, however, that is not the case. 

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My project will need hundreds of prototypes. How do I make them economically?

As quantities rise, the options become more limited and factors such as the geometry and size play a greater role. For example, a small complex part can be laser sintered in significant volumes (100's) at a competitive price. As complexity reduces and size increases, both PU injection moulding and tooling have a greater role to play. The greater the quantity, the more competitive development tooling will be over PU moulding.

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How can prototyping help make my product a success?

There are several different approaches to prototyping and the decision of which one may be right for you will depend on the expectations or requirements from the prototype. 

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Proof of Concept, Prototyping and Minimum Viable Product – how important are they?

So, you have an idea, or you’ve been tasked with getting the office project off the ground, but you’re not really sure where to go from here in terms of how to get it made? You know you’ll need a mock up for testing, or maybe a cosmetic replica to be able to show and get feedback on, and then hopefully down the line, some fully operational parts; but how to get to that point is a bit of a mystery?

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Did you know we provide a full Consultancy Service?

Plunkett Associates are here to support you and your manufacturing requirements at whatever level. Therefore, if required we undertake:

1) design work, utilising our experience to ensure economic process/quantity selection;

2) manufacturing analysis to find the best sourcing options, be it UK or Far East, and to ensure that the optimal processes are being invoked for each component; and

3) project management to keep your project on track.

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I need my prototype to look like the final production item; can this be done?

Prototypes can be made to look just like the final production part, and they can also be made to look and feel like the final production part. This subtle difference can translate into a significant price difference so it is worth being clear at the outset what is really required.

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What information do I need to get the ball rolling on my project?

What do I need to know“The engineer’s first problem in any design situation is to discover what the problem really is.”

This pretty much sums up the challenge we face when we speak to a client for the first time on a new project!

We want to help get your part(s) made the best way we can. Thus knowledge of what you want from the part(s) is very useful and helps us select the most appropriate option.

Hence we thought it might be helpful to put together a checklist, which will help us give you a more accurate quote in as short a time frame as possible. 

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How do I choose the process for my prototype when there are so many options?

New project, CAD data sorted, need a prototype…… aaargh too many options and don’t know which way to turn?!

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How do I make the transition from prototyping to production?

3D printing has unleashed the inventor in many of us, both as individuals and within the companies we work for. Now it is possible to realise an idea physically, at a price point that gives everyone access. When combined with the ‘almost’ unlimited geometric freedom that goes with 3D printing, it is clear as to why this is being heralded as the next industrial revolution. The only problem is that it’s not that straightforward!

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