Pre Production

Pre Production

There are times when the quantities of prototypes required rise well beyond the conventional 1 – 50 type range.

This may be due to the type of evaluation that is required, the number of people involved, or that they are really production items!

Pre-production cosmetic modelMethods can vary but typically the greater the numbers, the closer the prototyping method gets to the production method. For example 50 sets of sheet metalwork would be laser cut and formed and 100 mouldings would be injection moulded albeit with a different level of tooling.

Unbiased process options

It is worth noting at this point, that we have no allegience to one process, and therefore we can offer unbiased options to ensure you have the right process for your pre production parts as we will now discuss.

Vacuum casting and reaction injection moulding (RIM) occupy the central ground. Whilst requiring tooling, they both have specific attributes that make them attractive to producing quantities of large or complex parts. Vacuum casting can emulate colour and texture in a variety of grades of polyurethane (PU) resin, both hard and flexible.

Similarly RIM requires tooling, but due to the low pressures employed, facilitates the production of larger parts, without the dramatically increasing price of a similar injection moulding.

Prototypes in production intent material

For injection moulded plastic parts, we now offer a range of tooling options, several of which move this process firmly into the pre- production arena. Leadtimes can be competitive with vacuum casting and depending on quantities, price can be competitive as well. All with the significant upside of having prototypes in production intent materials!

If material requirement is paramount, it may be worth looking at our article, 'I want my prototype in ABS, like the production part. What can you do?'

Pre-production prototypesThen there is additive manufacture (metal and plastic). Most often if parts are being made with additive manufacture in production, then they contain features that prevent alternative manufacturing options.

For example lattice structures in the core to reduce weight, or they are the combination of several conventional parts fused together. In these cases there is little chance of employing anything apart from the intended production process.

However, there are times when additive manufacture can be applied very effectively to parts that will be moulded or machined. For example, Laser Sintering (SLS) can produce a few hundred relatively small parts with no cosmetic requirement, very quickly and at an attractive unit cost. Similarly high resolution stereolithography can be used for small batches of very detailed components requiring specific attributes, such as stiffness, in lieu of machining (or DMLS) from metal.

Pre-production prototype modelMetal parts are frequently machined and post processed

If the requirement is for metal components, these are frequently machined and post processed, as the production items would be, just in significantly shorter leadtimes. Under the pressure of time, CNC machining from solid will often offer advantages over casting and post machining, so long as the geometry permits.

We are here to ensure that you get the best from your prototyping experience. As you can see Plunkett Associates can provide a multitude of options of processes alongside material choice to ensure you get the best possible for your pre production parts.

With no vested interest in any one process, we can offer truly impartial guidance on the options, and support you all the way from initial prototypes through design approval/launch to subsequent tooling and production.

If this is what you are looking for, please give us a call or upload an enquiry here.

  • “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
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    Simon Leggett, Director, Olivewood Technology
    Simon Leggett, Director,  Olivewood Technology
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    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
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    Andrew Peters, JMDA Ltd
    Andrew Peters, JMDA Ltd
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    Jim Copestick. Design Manager, Thorlux Lighting
    Jim Copestick. Design Manager, Thorlux Lighting
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    Mark Williams, Research and Development Director, Johnson Safety Products
    Mark Williams, Research and Development Director, Johnson Safety Products
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    David Harden, Director, Enica Ltd
    David Harden, Director, Enica Ltd
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    Penny While, Marketing Director, Kirintec
    Penny While, Marketing Director, Kirintec
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    Simon Ryder, Artist
    Simon Ryder, Artist
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    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
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    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
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    Jon Todd, Design Manager, PHS Group
    Jon Todd, Design Manager, PHS Group
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    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
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    Jet Cooper, Sculptor
    Jet Cooper, Sculptor