Amazing companies choose PROTOTEK for high-quality parts done fast!
Machined Prototypes – Working with PROTOTEK
Deep capabilities in sheet metal and machining – design, prototyping, manufacturing, finishing, and even complex assemblies.
What do we do?
- Sheet Metal Parts & Assemblies in as Fast as 1-3 Days
- CNC Milled and Turned Parts in as Fast as 1-3 Days
- Complex Parts
- Same Day or Emergency Jobs – Call us Now!
About our fast, flexible personalized service:
- ISO-9001:2015 Certified, ITAR Registered
- Quotes within 24 Hours – Call us if you need it faster!
- Estimates with or without CAD Models
- We Want Complex Jobs – We Quote Parts Others Reject
Because every job is unique, and many require special considerations for materials, finishing, custom work, and/or urgent delivery – our prototyping quotes are turned around by seasoned estimators who confirm all aspects of your job. No automated quoting that works on cookie-cutter algorithms here to limit your project or your imagination. We figure out the best way to run your job first – and that’s why we deliver so many jobs that other shops turn away.
Our machined prototype capabilities start below but they don’t stop there. Want to talk to someone about a job, upload a file for quote or call us now.
NO CAD MODEL, NO PROBLEM
QUOTES WITHIN 24HRS
PARTS & ASSEMBLIES – ONE STOP SHOP
NO ORDER TOO SMALL
EXPEDITED PARTS IN 1-3 DAYS
- Manufacturing Design Assistance
- Laser Cutting - Punching
- Material Graining
- Drilling - Countersinking - Tapping
- Forming - Bending
- Hardware Insertion
- Mechanical Assembly
- TIG, MIG, Spot Welding & Weld Grinding
- Welded Assemblies & Frames
- Up to 5-Axis Milling
- Horizontal & Vertical Milling
- 9-Axis Mill-Turn
- CNC Routing
- Surface Grinding
- Lapping & Polishing
- Welding / Post-Weld Machining
- Heli-Coils / Hardware Inserts
Cutting & Engraving
- Wire EDM Cutting
- Waterjet Cutting
- CO2 Laser
- Quality Engineering Assistance
- CMM Inspection Services
- First Article and AQL Inspections
- Compliance and Document Control
Plastic & Composite Fabrication
- Plastic Thermoforming - Bending
- Cryogenic Deflashing & Deburring
- Plastic Welding
- Thermal, Adhesive, & Mechanical Bonding
- Vapor Polishing
- Radiological Film-Cutting Services
- Manufacturing Design Assistance
- Tooling and Fixture Fabrication
- Electro-Mechanical Services
- Welded, Mechanical, & Small Parts Assembly
- Wire Harnessing
- Laser Cutting – Polymers & Metals
- Insert Installation
- Powder Coating
- Chemical Agent Resistant Coating
- Silk Screening
- Laser Engraving
- Chem Film
- Black Oxide
- Bead Blasting
How Prototypes are Machined with CNC
Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining is a manufacturing process whereby computer inputs control different machining tools like lathes and drills to create a part or component (aka a prototype) intended to act as a model for future production of a finalized piece. CNC is used across several industries for different types of prototypes and end-use parts.
The Process of Machined Prototyping
Machined prototyping begins with a digital 3D design created using CAD software, whereby a computer can easily translate many instructions to the machine’s cutting tools. These instructions are referred to as a G-code. After the G-code has been sent to the machine, the machine knows where and when to cut and execute the machining independently. As a result, minimal hands-on involvement is required to produce the prototype. In the end, this helps save time, energy and money.
Machining is a subtractive process, which means that the equipment removes part of the existing material rather than introducing an additional material. Unlike additive manufacturing, in which a 3D printer places the material in layers to create an object, CNC machining deals with removing and cutting sections away from a formless block (also known as a workpiece).
Steps Involved with CNC Machined Prototyping
Blank Step – This is the machining process of cutting the material (also known as billet) down to size based on the overall size of the required prototype.
Programming – This is the process in which a digital file of the selected part is created using suitable software: CAD/CAM (Computer-Aided Design/Computer-Aided Manufacturing). This file ascertains the dimensions and geometry of the part and ultimately controls the CNC machine.
Cutting – This is process where the prototype is produced. After the block of material has been placed on the machine and held in a fixed place using hydraulic clamping, the CNC machine starts the cutting process. The machine will cut the desired part from the material based on the file details. As mentioned above, this is primarily a machine-driven process and involves limited direct involvement from other personnel.
Inspection – This process allows for review of the prototype prior to official completion. Inspection is intended to ensure the final product meets the required design.
Packaging or Outside Processing – This process involves finishing the final inspected prototype. Such processing operations include polishing, painting, engraving and others. If no finishes or outside processes are required, then the prototype can be packaged for delivery.
Technology and Processes Used in Machining Prototypes
Milling: Milling is a machining process that involves removing metals from the workpiece with a rotating cutter called a milling cutter.
Turning: Turning is a material removal process where unwanted material is cut from a rotating part.
Routing: Routing is the process where the routing machine holds the material, spindle, controller and drive system. The spindle cuts while the drive system has the ability to move in three directions as directed by the controller in order to route the exact cuts.
Surface Grinding: Surface grinding is the finishing process that uses a rotating abrasive wheel to smoothen the flat surface of any metallic or non-metallic materials, to give them have a well-defined look, or to get the desired surface for a functional purpose.
Lapping & Polishing: Lapping and polishing is a machining process that involves rubbing two surfaces together to produce the shape, dimension or finishing of your choice.
Welding / Post-Weld Machining: Post-weld machining operations are carried out on the weldment assembly after preparations and weld beads have been applied to the weldment.
Heli-Coils / Hardware Inserts: Heli Coil threaded Wire Insert Systems are also referred to as coiled-wire threaded inserts. They are used in making internal screw threads for standard-sized fasteners.
Machined Prototypes Materials and Material Characteristics
Prototypes can be made using a variety of materials. The best option will depend on the requirements of your specific project. Materials include:
|Machined Prototype Materials||Grade / Alloy||Heat Treatable||Tensile Strength (Ultimate, PSI)||Fatigue Strength (PSI)||Hardness (Brinell)||Prototype Machinability (AISI Rating)||Machined Prototype Materials||Grade / Alloy||Heat Treatable||Tensile Strength (Ultimate, PSI)||Fatigue Strength (PSI)||Hardness (Brinell)||Prototype Machinability (AISI Rating)|
|Brass||C46400||No||55000 - 88000||14500||82||30%|
|Silicon Aluminum Bronze||C64200||No||75000-102000||50000||N/A||60%|
Common Finishes Used on Machined Prototypes
Powder Coating: Powder coating is a finishing process that involves the use of dry, free-flowing, thermoplastic, or thermoset powder material on a surface. They are melted and hardened into an even coating.
Painting: Painting is the type of finishing that involves the application of paint, color pigment or another medium to any surface.
Chemical Agent Resistant Coating (CARC): This is a type of paint is used on metal surfaces to make them highly resistant to corrosion and penetration of any such from chemical agents.
Silk Screening: Silk screening is the process of printing a design on a finished piece.
Laser Engraving: Laser engraving is a subtractive manufacturing process that uses a laser beam to transform an object’s surface. It is mostly used to place designs or images on the material that can be seen at eye level. It is also known as laser etching.
Chem Film: Chem film is the process of adding a coating specifically to passivate aluminum. It is also often referred to as Alodine, chromate conversion or Iridite.
Anodizing: Anodizing is a finishing method that is used to change the surface chemistry of metals or other substrates. It helps in protecting metal or other substrates against corrosion. It improves aesthetic qualities and it also resists scratching.
Black Oxide: Black oxide or blackening is the finishing process that involves converting the top layer of a material with a chemical treatment to darken its appearance.
Bead Blasting: Bead blasting is a metal finishing process that adds a clean, bright, uniform matte texture to materials. Glass beads are usually blasted at a material surface using low air pressure.
Tumbling: Tumbling (sometimes referred to as rumbling or barreling) is a process used to clean, deburr, burnish, polish or generally finish an end prototype. This process involves putting parts / prototypes into a barrel that turns and finishes the end piece using various finishing solutions and media.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Are you a broker or a manufacturer?
We are a full service sheet metal and machining manufacturer with four U.S. production facilities across the nation allowing us to deliver your high-quality parts FAST.
Does PROTOTEK manufacture in higher-volume quantities?
We focus on prototypes to low-volume production and can do larger runs. All our parts, from one – to 100 – to 1,000+ are always delivered with production-quality finish.
What are your payment terms?
PROTOTEK offers Net 30 payment terms for established customers with good credit.
What file formats are required or suggested for requesting a quote?
We accept .STP, .DWG, .IGS, .PDF, Parasolid files, and more.
What if I need help with my part design?
Our estimators are on hand to discuss your specific job needs. Our expert team can help you move your project smoothly through the design process and on to delivery.
If I do not have a CAD model, can you quote/fabricate my parts?
Yes, we can work directly from your drawings. Additional engineering charge (NRC) may apply depending on complexity.
How do I submit my NDA and other document requests?
Submit your NDA, Approved Vendor and other document requests to your sales rep or estimator.
How long is a quote valid?
Our quotes stand firm for 7 days from the date of issue.
How fast can I get my order?
Lead time for standard orders is 10 business days. Expediting options are available, including emergency service – down to as fast as 1-2 business days, depending on complexity of work and materials.