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3D Printing Prototypes

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3D Printing Prototypes

Technologies for Any Size Model

From the smallest products to full-scale industrial models, we let you take advantage of a full spectrum of in-house additive manufacturing technologies to build conceptual models for visualization and fully functional demonstration models. We treat large models as we do large prototypes: they need to stand up to the same rigors and abuse as real-world parts do—and sometimes more. Numerous materials are possible for model-making, large prototypes and 3D printing prototypes. We tailor models to specific needs, time constraints and budgets.

Fathom 3D Printing Prototype Services Include:

Industries & Types of Models We Work With

  • Original equipment manufacturers (OEM)
  • Exhibition models
  • Machinery
  • Trade shows
  • Military equipment

What is a 3D Printing Prototype?

A 3D printed prototype is a physical representation of an idea – a sample or simulation – that will allow your team to demonstrate and test the intention behind a design before investing time and money for production. It is far more cost-effective to create a prototype, model, or large prototype and discover any design issues early in the product development process. The prototype allows you to gather valuable feedback before production.

3D printing or additive manufacturing is a production method in which material is applied in layers until the desired shape is formed. 3D printing includes fused deposition modeling, stereolithography, selective laser sintering and other processes. 3D printing is useful for rapid prototyping because it allows the designer to make quick changes without creating a new mold. There are three primary reasons your business may need a 3D prototype.

Purpose of a 3D Printing Prototype

Here are a few reasons why your business may need a prototype.:

  1. Test a concept: Having a real, physical product in your customers’ hands will allow your team to gather feedback and test the design’s functionality.
  2. Visual aid for investors and customers: While a digital or paper model can help customers visualize your idea, having a physical product they can touch will increase their understanding.
  3. Manufacturing prep: Use a prototype to test and edit the product design before investing in tooling and large-scale production.

Types of 3D Printing Prototypes

There are many different kinds of prototypes and depending on what stage your project is in the product development process will determine which type of prototype will work best.

  • Visual prototype: A visual prototype can illustrate a product’s color, size and geometric features, but not the texture, feel or weight of a product. Visual prototypes are primarily used in marketing.
  • Working prototype: A physical prototype allows a brand to test a finished product’s functionality but does not have the same appearance as a finalized product. The purpose of the physical prototype is to determine if the final product will serve its purpose or if any design changes need to be made to improve it.
  • User experience prototype: A user experience prototype has the same appearance and functionality as a final product. It can be presented to the end-user for research and allows for consumer testing to determine if a product is user-friendly and provides customer satisfaction. Customers can interact with the prototype, allowing valuable data to be gathered. There may still be opportunities for improvement made possible by the user experience prototype.
  • Functional prototype: A functional prototype has the same appearance and full functionality as the final product. It may be made using different materials and/or manufacturing methods than the final product. It can be used to gain funding for mass production or for licensing.

Benefits of Prototypes

The benefits of having a prototype can range from answering design questions to seeing how the customer interacts with your design. Additional benefits of having a prototype include:

  • Test durability and fit
  • Collect customer feedback and identifying opportunities
  • Test the final function and design
  • Use as a visual aid for investors to gain funding
  • Discover design problems early
  • Determine which manufacturing process will work best
  • Estimate production costs
  • Save money
  • Save time

Additive manufacturing or 3D printing allows you to create multiple versions of your product within a relatively short amount of time. Adjustments can be made in the 3D modeling software and then printed. There is no need to create a new mold with each change.

Possible Prototype Challenges

While creating a prototype is an investment of money, time and resources, testing a product reduces costly risks that can happen once a product moves into large scale production. Suppose a flaw is discovered once a product has been replicated thousands of times. In that case, the resulting waste is a waste of materials and machinery and a waste of time and money. Thanks to rapid prototyping, a prototype does not need to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Why Choose Fathom to Make Your Prototype?

  • Comprehensive prototyping services
  • State-of-the-art equipment and technology
  • Prototypes for many different industries
  • Customer-based approach

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Comprehensive Capabilities for Rapid Manufacturing

At Fathom we offer a unique advantage of speed and agility-our experts help companies go from concept to prototype to manufacturing in ways not previously possible. 

3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing
90+ Machines  
SLS / / Two-day  SLA / / Next-day 
FDM / / Next-day DMLS / / Three-day 
PolyJet / / Same-day MJF / / Two-day
Injection Molding

30 Second Quotes

Prototype Tool / / As soon as 10 days

10K Parts / / 10 days

Production Tool / / As soon as 3 weeks

CNC Machining

3 & 5 Axis Milling & Turning
(Plastics, Composites and Metals)

Tolerance Accuracy Range
from +/-0.001″ to 0.005″

Urethane Casting

Injection Molding Adjacent
without High Costs of Metal Tools

Most Commonly Used for High-Volume
Prototyping & Bridge to Production

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Fathom is driven by advanced technologies and methods that enhance and accelerate today’s product development and production processes.

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