CNC milling and machining is an essential aspect of manufacturing. The production of hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces, all milled to the same exact specifications, is critical in mass production. It is only possible with the kind of precision that CNC milling makes possible.
CNC prototyping, however, is an equally important yet somewhat overlooked aspect of the services that a CNC machine shop can provide. At Excello, for example, our facility covers more than 25,000 square feet. Yet, our shop can be used to provide a single prototype piece just as easily as it can provide hundreds of identical parts.
Rapid prototyping is the use of a CNC facility to quickly create a single proof of concept piece that can be used to further expand on an idea. Design drawings and engineering schematics certainly have their place but it is only when a piece is actually created that the designers can truly see the results of their efforts.
An organization called One Street Components used CNC rapid prototyping to create a prototype of a bike shifter they had been working on. Recognizing the importance of the bicycle as a mode of transportation, particularly in low-income and developing areas, they set out to create an easily replicated shifter that could be made from scrap aluminum.
Their goal was a strong yet inexpensive friction shifter that could be used on virtually any bike in almost any application. In particularly hilly areas, geared bicycles are essential. However, broken shifters can often be disastrous. The gears make climbs easier but when a shifter breaks the people often lack the resources to replace it. And, many of these areas are remote. If a lack of financial resources wasn’t an issue, the lack of any surrounding infrastructure would be.
One Street Components created a shift lever made of only six parts, one of which is a bottle cap. It was an exquisitely simple design but it needed to be tested. Reaching out to a CNC milling shop, they created a prototype of the shifter to ensure that it could function as designed. In the end, they created a shifter that could revolutionize bicycle maintenance in areas that need it the most.
For more information on how CNC rapid prototyping can take your project to the next level contact us today.