Quick Thinking: Hyper-Rapid Prototyping

As designers, sometimes we have to be creative about how to build a prototype very quickly.  In some cases, assessing the viability of a design the same day that you came up with the idea can make all of the difference in a project schedule.  On a recent project, we invented a mechanism that needed a power spring to operate, but there were no off-the-shelf power springs available of the size we needed.  So we got creative: enter hyper-rapid prototyping.  We realized that small pull-back toy cars contain power springs similar in size to what we needed in our design.  We drove to Target, purchased a set of 6 pull-back cars for $5.00, and with careful dissection, we had exactly the spring we needed two hours after generating the idea.  We used in-house 3D printers to print the remainder of the design, and by the end of the day, we had a functioning prototype showing that the design was viable. Sometimes you have to get creative to prototype quickly.  The classic pull-back toy car came to the rescue in this case.  For more about pull-back toy cars and the rather sophisticated gearbox mechanisms included in each for pennies, check out this fascinating video: https://bit.ly/3dfKw5e

Brian Murphy

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