The costs of production are a reality for any business engaged in manufacturing or the production of products or parts. The automotive industry is no exception, and new approaches in prototyping are revolutionizing the auto industry, enabling new products and concepts to come to market faster and cheaper than ever before.


For those that are interested in cutting costs, as well as those that may not have the large budgets and resources of more substantial companies, automotive prototyping solutions can represent the only viable way to create parts or to iterate design changes and other needs. While prototyping in the past may have been limited to certain types of production, today's rapid prototyping materials are much more robust and able to withstand higher pressures and temperatures, helping to raise their usefulness in the real world.


That's good news because many manufacturers are dialing down their production levels these days. And the improvements in automotive prototyping solutions means that the service of prototyping is more robust than in years past. That can mean easy creation of viable prototypes with production level quality, all at a cost that's significantly less than what would be needed in a full production run.


Why Automotive Prototyping Is Important


As one of the largest global industries, there are lots of competing actors and considerations in the automotive world. From governmental regulations to the auto makers themselves, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of contractors and aftermarket companies that serve varying needs in the auto industry, there's a lot at play. 


Consumers also have more choice than ever, and their fickle desires can cause wild swings in the market regardless of a manufacturer's intentions or plans. And one of the best ways to stay ahead of the market is to engage in rapid automotive prototyping solutions and services. That will enable you to put forth your best designs and products, all while reducing costs and the lead time you need to get that next great product to market.


Aside from reaching the market quickly and efficiently, automotive prototyping also allows manufacturers to test out designs and new parts without the high cost of a production run, which is vastly important for an industry that values safety and efficiency above all else. With prototyping, only the best designs and parts will ever see the light of day, and that's better for manufacturers and consumers.


How To Choose a Prototyping Partner


But before you can line up those prototypes and make your way towards that full production run, you'll need to choose the right automotive prototyping partner. Here are some of the things that you'll want to keep in mind during your selection process.


First and foremost, your prototyping partner will need to be capable and have all the technologies in place to enable a quick turnaround and reasonable costs during the prototyping process. Sometimes it can help to review case studies or talk to existing or previous clients to see how the project went and how costs were cut and timelines were condensed with the introduction of rapid prototyping. After all, if your desired partner hasn't done this before or doesn't have the required technologies and tools in place to ensure a seamless process, you'll pay for it either in raw costs or a disruption to your overall timeline.


Next up has to do with verifying their production speed and deliverables. Automotive prototyping solutions are only really viable if they significantly cut your production timeline and costs, but keep in mind that prototyping is also about economically trying things that may not work so that you can learn more about your product and the market for it. Ideally, you'll need a prototyping partner that can produce high quality parts and prototypes in a short time frame -- anything short of that could end up costing you more than you bargained for.


If you have a certain timeline or a deliverable that must be in hand by a certain date, let your prototyping partner know in advance. If they balk or aren't sure if they'll be able to meet the timeline, get a second opinion. If others say the same thing, then you may have to readjust your expectations or reevaluate the types of prototyping companies that you're looking for. That said, those with the most resources and the highest capabilities should be able to safely condense that timeline without disrupting other parts of the process.


Another important consideration is the level of customer service or support that you need. If you're okay sending that prototyping project into a black hole, you may not care, but most manufacturers want to be involved on a daily basis, particularly as it gets closer to the deadline. The right automotive prototyping partner will work closely with you on the solutions and services that they're providing, keeping you abreast of any changes or challenges that may develop, all the while working hard to meet your financial and time constraints.


For the best long-term relationships, you may even want to consider a trip in person to your top pick. Sure, it'll cost a bit of money and time, but it'll be worth it in the long run because you'll be able to evaluate your prototyping partner in their element. Not only can they give you an up-front look at their processes and technologies, but the face-time is also vital towards keeping that valuable relationship going weeks, months and years down the line.


The Value of Automotive Prototyping Solutions


While you may make the lion's share of your revenue from product runs and parts that are out there in the real world, prototyping is more than just a way to test those designs and concepts. The right prototyping partner can help you ideate and get those designs to market faster and with greater efficiency than you ever could on your own, and that means saving time and money on your prototyping needs.


A high-quality prototype is essential for creating the best products, and a partner that helps you create the right prototype at the right time can help you meet deadlines and get more out of your R&D efforts than haphazardly going from concept and design to full production run. An oversight or error here could prove overwhelmingly costly and may even jeopardize your business itself, and all it takes is one call to kick things off and protect your business.


If you're looking for a competent automotive prototyping partner, you don't have to look any further than the engineering and prototyping experts at RCO Engineering. With the know-how and ability to help you streamline your processes and help create prototypes that can get you to market faster, we're here to help.