Previously we spoke about 3D printers, their promise or lack thereof! I will admit I have been a bit cynical of their reliability, accuracy and actual usefulness. There is absolutely no doubt that 3D printers are here to stay and promise great things for our future. Sadly, for most of us, it still remains in the future. Despite the fact that Adept designs 100’s of parts per month we don’t own a 3D printer and don’t expect to purchase one anytime soon. That’s not to say we don’t utilize rapid manufacturing a great deal. However, by not bringing a single technology in house we are not bound or tempted to fit our process into the single technology we own. Prototyping companies put out a horde of advertising displaying complex assemblies that have been 3D printed in order to entice us towards their machines and services, but beware, (we’ll talk about that a little later). I don’t want to necessarily talk about 3D printers but more about prototyping as a whole. Specifically about when to prototype and when not to prototype, a sort of Shakespearean… “to Prototype or not to Prototype”.
“With great power comes great responsibility.” I’ve always expected a bit more from this quote. If Peter Parker is who claims it, so be it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Spiderman movies. What’s not to like about a good guy winning and getting the girl. Unfortunately, in the world of engineering, we are not always fortunate to have the same fate. We are given great power and responsibility, but without the girl (or guy, let’s stay on theme…Spiderman and all). The power to engineer and develop in the virtual world is fantastic and has granted us unimaginable vision and responsibility.