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Rapid Proto recommendation?
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February 19, 2010, 06:16:25 PM
I am nearing the stage where I will have to put a prototype electronic circuit card in a plastic case to demonstrate its capabilities.

I can buy a standard prototyping case and route the necessary holes, but I am considering a custom case that not only will look better than my meager handyman skills can provide, but can also include engraved/raised lettering.

There are many, many places advertising Rapid Prototyping, 3D Printing, etc., so it's a little daunting to pick one.

Who do you recommend (yea or nay)?

Thanks in advance,

Jeff

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* February 21, 2010, 10:04:08 AM
#1
Shop around for the best price, material, color(?), near where you are, nice looking brochure etc.  Most rapid prototype/3d printers will do much the same work.  Search the web for one you are comfortable with.  Doing a rapid prototype sounds like  better idea than making your own.

John B.

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John B.
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February 21, 2010, 12:12:43 PM
#2
I've been looking at a bunch of places, but none of them allow for online quotes, so I will have to submit a drawing and wait.  I was hoping to do an end-run around that by getting some specific recommendations.

Oh, well... I have found a place in Anaheim (driving distance from where I live).  I just hope they don't try to make their week on my one job.   ;)


Jeff

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* February 21, 2010, 12:27:53 PM
#3
The differences are more in the machines and their capabilities than bureaus and operators.  I've used a local bureau with a high end Dimension machine because it can produce ABS or ABS-like parts in consistent solid colours with a mold-like semigloss finish.  There's a European online bureau called Shapeways that was originally, I've heard, a spin-off of the Philips electronic company.  They have a wide range of machines, materials and finishes, their online quote system is transparent, communication is good, and there's lots of feedback from customers about their service and delivery.  If you're going local, expect to see examples of the sort of finishes they can deliver, and perhaps the mesh resolution (edge length and normal tolerance) of the .stl to obtain it.  Don't discount subtractive RP, CNC milled plastics can deliver surfaces that need minimal wet sanding with flour paper and polishing to look like a molded part and can be cheaper than additive RP. 

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February 21, 2010, 12:37:47 PM
#4
I will try to make the case simple enough for CNC.  Was thinking a snap-together design would be cleaner, but maybe I will go with screws on the bottom.

Jeff

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* February 21, 2010, 01:33:47 PM
#5
RE:"I just hope they don't try to make their week on my one job."   

It might more feasible with an off the shelf case rather cnc made. Often these cases can be modify to your specs.And some case makers will work to your specs.Makers in this field of work can offer consultation and better equipped to your needs.CNC fees can be astronomical along with mold makers cost.Don't expect some thing cheap.Often I kid around with my cohorts that hourly rates are near equivalent to hourly lawyer fees.

RE:"I will try to make the case simple enough for CNC."With modern multiple axis CNC machines in the industry.The limits are limitless.The more complicated the design is I'm sure there is someone out there can build it.

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February 21, 2010, 01:47:17 PM
#6
For the prototype case (which will have extra holes to accommodate stuff that will go away in the production model), I suppose I will have to get a standard prototyping box and drill or route it.

I am mildly concerned about not knowing the precise material in those boxes because the touch sensor that is part of my project requires an epsilon (essentially, the inverse electrical conductivity rating) above a certain value and while plastics generally have an adequate value, some are made with shielding that is a feature for some applications, but anathema to mine.

Jeff

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February 21, 2010, 02:11:01 PM
#7
Then again, I will be trying to attract investors and an attractive prototype can help.

Jeff

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* February 21, 2010, 04:02:22 PM
#8
Was wondering where stand on patent ?did you pursue with one or is on the back burner?

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Even a mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worthwhile achievement Henry Ford
If I have ever made any valuable discoveries it has been owing more to patient attention than to any other talent Isaac Newton
I have not failed Ive just found 10,000 ways that won't work Thomas Edison


February 21, 2010, 04:05:21 PM
#9
Murray mentioned Shapeways...  I saw another link on the Shapeways site that may be relevant.  http://meshlab.sourceforge.net/    Meshlab looks like it also does 3D fixing of STL files.  Just thought I'd mention the link in case it's helpful to someone.

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* February 21, 2010, 05:19:05 PM
#10
I will try to make the case simple enough for CNC.  Was thinking a snap-together design would be cleaner, but maybe I will go with screws on the bottom.

Jeff


Snap-together design is trickier than it looks and requires fairly close tolerances.

Henry H

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* February 21, 2010, 07:23:07 PM
#11

Snap-together design is trickier than it looks and requires fairly close tolerances.

Henry H

Less so when alignment and retention features are separate.   

[attachment deleted by admin]

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February 21, 2010, 07:44:45 PM
#12
Was wondering where stand on patent ?did you pursue with one or is on the back burner?

My parents asked some other people in their retirement community who used to sell products and they said that getting to market first was more important than a patent.

However, I watched an episode of "Shark Tank" and a unique device (toy, actually) that was pitched got one of the potential investors interested enough to ask if it was patented (it was).

So... I am still on the fence.  It would be impossible to beat the performance of my device when it comes to power dissipation due to a near-magical device I found.  If I can successfully hide the source of that one component, it is very unlikely that another company could duplicate my device in either power savings or cost.  On the other hand, if I have a patent and someone gets close enough, I could sue for royalties.


Jeff

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February 22, 2010, 12:44:01 PM
#13
How quickly can you get the patenting process started, so as not to delay marketing the product?  And after that, does using the label "patent pending" have any weight, legally?

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Josh T.
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February 22, 2010, 12:47:59 PM
#14
To my understanding, the "patent pending" notice serves only as a warning to potential competitors to review the patent application and make theirs just different enough that it doesn't violate my patent.

Jeff

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February 22, 2010, 02:05:14 PM
#15
To my understanding, the "patent pending" notice serves only as a warning to potential competitors to review the patent application and make theirs just different enough that it doesn't violate my patent.

Jeff


Jeff

Couldn't they do same thing if you had a patent.

Let me share a conversation I had with a friend that invented and patented a machine to put seasoning on potato chips.

I was considering marketing a product and asked his opinion on the patterning process.

What he adviced me was was to start with just a patent pending to minimize startup cost.  If the product lives up to its potential complete the patent process. This also officially documents a date.

My advice is if this has real potential you should consult a patent Atty.  You can not apply logic when it comes to understanding Laws.

Alan

PS Thanks for all your help on this forum
« Last Edit: February 22, 2010, 02:11:41 PM by Alan H. »

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February 22, 2010, 02:18:50 PM
#16
Thanks for the advice and I am happy to be useful.   ;)

Jeff

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February 22, 2010, 03:51:37 PM
#17
Jeff:

I have good luck with Solid Concepts (I think in your area). They do a great job, and treat me well, and extremely fast. They do have new prototyping materials that allow you to actually use the product under real life conditions.

Patents... did that been there... I have changed my thinking a bit on them. They are really for large companies when looking at the big scheme of things. The little guy should take that 5-10K and spend it on marketing and sales- make your dough, then bail. If you are COMPLETELY SURE THAT YOU WILL BE A MULTI-BILLIONAIRE (And every inventor thinks he will be) then go for a "provisional patent" That will be cheaper and a better business model.

Good luck my friend.

Aram ;D

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February 22, 2010, 04:11:57 PM
#18
Aram,

Thanks for the info.  Solid Concepts has one location within an hours' drive (best case), but more interesting is their reference to a self-serve fabricator here: http://www.zoomrp.com/.  They provide same-day shipping of smaller parts that don't require special processing, as well as credit card payment, so I should be able to get immediate online quotes.

From what I have read, a patent can take up to 5 years, although I understand that there is a faster path for Green Technology products.  However, I have read two different definitions (10 months, or 10 months LESS THAN USUAL).  Exasperating.


Jeff

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* February 22, 2010, 04:21:14 PM
#19
Try this company:  3D-cam,Inc.  They are in Chatsworth and Anaheim and Santa Cruz CA.  Tell them the Planetary Edger sent you.

John B.

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February 22, 2010, 04:46:58 PM
#20
Seems like another good recommendation. 

Thanks,

Jeff

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* February 22, 2010, 08:13:55 PM
#21
Jeff,

Another possibility might be K-Box Technology, which is specifically aimed at electronic packaging. I think K-Box is based in Europe but I understand they have licensees around the globe.  In Australia it's done by Rutty Tool-Less Plastics.  Their web site ( http://www.rtptrading.com.au/ )  gives you some ideas of what can be done.  It's good for prototypes and low volume production.

Regards
Paul C

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February 22, 2010, 08:27:25 PM
#22
Paul,

Yes, I did find some American partners, http://www.toolless.com/ and http://www.envplastics.com/.  Also possibilities.

Thanks,

Jeff

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