Frequently Asked Questions

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

Prototypes

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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  • “Plunkett Associates have excellent breadth of experience, work with high quality partners and have a flexibility that we have found enables challenges to be met successfully, cost effectively and in a timely manner.”
    Nick Skaer, CEO, Orthox Ltd
    Nick Skaer, CEO, Orthox Ltd
  • Plunkett associates always find a solution. Whatever we need to prototype, they have a great grasp on the technologies available, costs and lead-times so we get the right solution tailored to the project needs. Have always delivered and never let us down.
    Naim Audio
    Naim Audio
  • “I can’t recommend Tim and his team highly enough. We ended up with a design which can be produced and assembled quickly, efficiently and reliably, in volumes that make sense”
    Simon Leggett, Director, Olivewood Technology
    Simon Leggett, Director,  Olivewood Technology
  • "Tim's experience, expertise and supplier base have been fundamental to us getting this project off the ground."
    Sam Pearce, Jelly Products Ltd
    Sam Pearce, Jelly Products Ltd
  • “We were really surprised at how quickly they turned round such a high quality prototype and the parts certainly proved their worth. They were of high enough quality to provide a fantastic visual representation and to undergo rigorous testing."
    Stuart Wilson, Design Director, TRT Lighting
    Stuart Wilson, Design Director, TRT Lighting
  • “Accuracy, finish and delivery all first class.”
    Andrew Peters, JMDA Ltd
    Andrew Peters, JMDA Ltd
  • “We use Plunkett Associates because we want someone we can trust, that knows what they’re talking about, has all the contacts, will provide reliable advice and feedback and will get the right result for us.”
    Jim Copestick. Design Manager, Thorlux Lighting
    Jim Copestick. Design Manager, Thorlux Lighting
  • “We always know exactly what we’re getting and we know we won’t be let down on quality, price or lead times.”
    Mark Williams, Research and Development Director, Johnson Safety Products
    Mark Williams, Research and Development Director, Johnson Safety Products
  • “Plunkett Associates truly offer a complete turnkey solution with Speed, Effectiveness and Precision.”
    David Harden, Director, Enica Ltd
    David Harden, Director, Enica Ltd
  • “Kirintec were thrilled with Plunketts. They made a complex process simple and we were just amazed at the lead times achieved. Plus, every single deadline was met without any drama.”
    Penny While, Marketing Director, Kirintec
    Penny While, Marketing Director, Kirintec
  • “Thanks to Plunkett Associates flexible, bespoke and cost effective service I was able to produce the objects that I had originally had in mind.”
    Simon Ryder, Artist
    Simon Ryder, Artist
  • To create such a consistent quality finish in chrome was an amazing achievement and the prototypes really gave our stand the wow factor.
    James Clark, Group Commercial Director, The Airdri Group
    James Clark, Group Commercial Director, The Airdri Group
  • Interestingly, people who look at it in its own right with little knowledge of what it does, just like it! It’s tactile and it looks good…
    Tim Collings, Operations Director, Troika Systems Ltd
    Tim Collings, Operations Director, Troika Systems Ltd
  • "With their simple to understand language, willingness to go the extra mile and approachability, Plunkett Associates were a great partner for our company. We couldn’t be happier with the results of our project. (A working prototype that they got right first time, by the way). Thank you!"
    Carolina Ballon-Forrester, Director, Kittyrama Ltd
    Carolina Ballon-Forrester, Director, Kittyrama Ltd
  • Plunkett Associates worked on the design and production of titanium frames for an artificial heart valve where precision and consistency was paramount. Communications were efficient and productive with concepts readily incorporated into the final design, and suggestions for improvements all highly appropriate. The quality of the end product was ideal and I have no doubt that I will use the advice and expertise of Plunkett Associates again.
    David Wheatley, Wheatley Research Ltd
    David Wheatley, Wheatley Research Ltd
  • “Thanks for the present that arrived this morning, as promised. Parts look first class, as always.”
    Jon Todd, Design Manager, PHS Group
    Jon Todd, Design Manager, PHS Group
  • “Plunkett Associates have a fantastic supply chain, work with all sorts of production processes and will always do their utmost to solve a problem.”
    Naim Audio
    Naim Audio
  • “ Plunketts developed a solution that met our precision requirements at a cost significantly lower than alternative manufacturing approaches we had investigated”
    Nick Skaer, CEO, Orthox Ltd
    Nick Skaer, CEO, Orthox Ltd
  • “Doing business with you has been an absolute pleasure. You have made my goals a reality. You have been patient, helpful and above all, responsive. Best service that I have experienced in ages. I consider Plunkett Associates to be an integral part of my business plan moving forward.”
    Jet Cooper, Sculptor
    Jet Cooper, Sculptor