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What You Need to Ask Your Prototyper

Guest blogger William Colbath continues his helpful series on Prototyping with the following article for AmericanInventorSpot.com :

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Hi all.

Hope you are all doing well. I want to thank everyone that wrote me about the death of my great granddaughter. Your comments were appreciated. Last week I talked about engineers, this week I am going to talk a little about prototypers and what makes them tick. Anybody that has invented a product or at least tried to invent a product knows what I am about to say.

Inventors are probably the most motivated folks on the planet, they have to be. When you look at all the obstacles facing a inventor today: lack of funds, design problems, and reluctance on the part of manufactures to buy the invention. (the old it wasn't designed here syndrome comes to mind), it is absolutely amazing that anything gets done at all! But the american inventor does overcome those obstacles and builds their product everyday in this country. How you ask do they do this with everything working against them? They do this by ambition, hard work, desire, drive and many other good qualities. We see it every time american inventor airs on TV, and many times you never hear about it.

Well guess what folks here is something you might not know, most prototypers are inventors! And the same things that drive a inventor drives most prototypers! This can and does work to your advantage when hiring a prototyper. A prototyper does this for many reasons here are a few to think about. First they do it because they can. Most learned their skills by inventing to fill a need. But a rare few worked in a industry were prototyping is a way of life. Need a example? I spent 29 years working in the pipeline industry as a mechanic and master mechanic. During that time I was asked to build untold number of different devices, just to get the job done! (In the pipeline industry it is common practice to just dump any problem that they cannot solve right squarely in the lap of the master mechanic)

Think I am kidding? On a job in the great state of California I was told by the spread-man (The big boss in pipeline terminology) to build a pile driver, to drive sheet piling into the ground. And they needed it yesterday I might add. Well folks I had never built a pile driver before, but it was looking pretty good that I might just get my chance. Pile drivers work by raising a very large weight on a track that is attached to the piling, and dropping it quite forcibly down, like a large hammer. Since I couldn't just go out and buy a large weight like I needed, I had to come up with a different way, and fast as they needed it yesterday! I knew that it needed to weigh about a 1,000 lbs. or more to work correctly. I looked to a idea that I had seen on home weight lifting machines, where they stacked weights on a rod, and you moved a pin up or down to select the weight. I then looked and found a steel supply house that had a computer controlled plasma cutter that could cut 4" thick steel, and thats a very rare bird indeed folks. I managed to find one and drew up a pattern on my computer with a cad program, then e mailed it to them. The very next day I received a set of twenty 4" thick stackable shapes that I welded together, instant weight for my little hammer.

This is meant to show you a little of how I got my experience. And I sure don't recommend it for training to become a prototyper, to much like work! But when you are talking to potential prototypers remember to ask about their background, where they got their experience and what motivates them. It will go a long way towards helping you to select the right prototyper for your project. I myself would never dream of hiring a prototyper that wasn't also a inventor, and neither should you. Remember it all about trying to save the green stuff.

Till next week,

William William Colbath
Owner - Ironponyfabrication.com
E-mail: Sales@Ironponyfabrication.com