In the standard prototype design process, a prototype is first designed in-house but is then outsourced to a third party manufacturer. These facilities are often overseas, which consumes both a project’s budgeted time and capital. In response, some R&D departments have innovated in-house prototyping methods like 3D printing and CNC milling, which allow them to create a prototype right in their own labs.
Below are six reasons why you should consider in-house prototyping:
Reason 1: Increased Productivity
When you’re trying to get a prototype out the door, time is of the essence. Going the common route means building a week or more into your production schedule to accommodate transit time between you and a manufacturer. This is to say nothing of the internal lag outsourcing causes within your own development process. Many companies hesitate to request a prototype until it’s practically finished, meaning more delays if they discover any problems.
With in-house prototyping, this doesn’t have to be the case. In-house prototyping means you start building a prototype sooner, thereby converting time you would be waiting for a product in transit into the time you’re spending developing and perfecting your idea. In-house prototyping, therefore, can turn an artificially inflated schedule into an efficient schedule, one that uses time actually working on a product, not waiting to get a product back from a manufacturer.
Reason 2: Reduced Costs
Considering in-house prototyping means considering revenue streams and how much return is coming back from where that revenue is invested. Conservation of revenue just makes sense. In order to accommodate the traditional manufacturing method, your money must necessarily go into the shipping costs and the vendor’s profit margins.
Keeping your prototyping in-house means conserving that money by investing it in yourself. It also means the ability to conserve money by prioritizing more promising projects, as opposed to investing within projects that have stalled. This is not the case when you outsource prototyping. Most PCB manufacturers require that you commit early to running your full production through their houses, giving you less freedom with your prototypes while also requiring greater investment.
Reason 3: Quicker Turn Around Time
Your product is more than just a PCB. Most companies considering in-house prototyping represent a synthesis of different departments (mechanical/hardware, software, PCB designers,) all pooling their ideas to produce one thing: your product.
So why let the turnaround time associated with prototyping make everyone else wait? In-house prototyping can often be done on the same day, freeing that time usually given to shipping and, instead, giving other departments more time to collaborate and focus on what makes your product special. Removing this turnaround time can even significantly reduce overall development time, and bring your product to market before the competition.
Reason 4: Fewer Errors
With rapid in-house prototyping, you don’t have to accept the errors and workarounds inherent in the process of outsourcing to a board house. The rapid prototyping allowed by having in-house capabilities allows for the elimination of the need to produce costly dies and molds. With traditional manufacturing the problem of, say, a flange that doesn’t fit into a receptacle often goes unnoticed until after a mold has been created. Re-making the mold, however, is extremely expensive –a cost avoided with in-house prototyping.
Reason 5: Better Security
Security protocols differ from company to company and are usually not the first consideration when selecting a vendor. Shipping your prototype to a manufacturer means sifting it between the various security protocols of both the manufacturer and the shipping company. This can lead to security leaks, which may leave you vulnerable to piracy. This concern is eliminated by in-house prototyping, which ensures that your product is consistently protected by your own security protocols.
Reason 6: Increased Innovation
The rapid production allowed by in-house prototyping means you can produce hundreds of prototypes in the time normally consumed by outsourced prototyping. More prototypes mean innovation is encouraged with regard to a product, which leaves you free to produce a prototype that has the most appropriate design. But innovation doesn’t have to be limited to the prototypes you produce.
In-house innovation means you don’t have to settle for an outsourced manufacturer’s capabilities when you can invest in your own abilities to ensure that you have the technology and materials you need, allowing you to grow and innovate within your market.
Transitioning to in-house prototyping means expanding the effectiveness and innovation of your design team. By dramatically reducing the need for third-party outsourcing, your revenue spent on an outdated form of prototyping can instead be invested in your company.