Advice for getting into prototyping/small production market?

I’m wondering how to break into the prototyping market - I dont necessarily want to design products, just make them - plastics, hybrid-resins, wood, etc. I have a ‘cold foundry’ studio set up, but just wondering how to make that connection with designers. I’ve worked with artists - even owned a contemporary art gallery for a couple years until April of this year , but I dont know of anyone pursuing a product idea or in need of those kinds of services. Anyone in a position to give me advice on the matter? Thanks in advance.

It sounds like you mostly want to set up a model shop - building rapid prototypes/apperance models/functional prototypes?

I’ll say that from what I’ve seen it’s a hard field to break into and is dying because of costs of outsourcing. Many people are finding it cheaper to get work done offshore and having it shipped back rather then doing it domestically. Domestically there are a lot of model houses around that have a long reputation with certain clients who feed them most of their business.

What kind of resources do you have in terms of setting up shop? IE purchasing machinery, RP machines, CNC machines, etc. The overhead for starting up is pretty daunting.

If you really wanted to get your name out there you’d have to do some GREAT work and try and get your name in with local designers, consultancys and corporations. I know we make many of our model vendors bend over backwards for us in terms of unreasonable deadlines, solving extremely challenging prototyping problems, etc - but as a result we keep our business flowing to them since they are tried and true. It’s also a very dying breed because of that. Good model makers are being replaced by rapid prototype machines and its unfortuate.

If you can carve out a very specific niche you might be able to find a good business case, but I think breaking into the traditional model making game now is going to be hard.

I appreciate your insight - really helpful.

Essentially, yes - I think ‘model shop/sculpture studio’ is probably more accurate. I dont have the high-end equipment - I do everything by hand aside from a rotocaster for hollow castings and all my materials are RTV. When I need machined or high-tolerance components in a model, I usually incorporate store-bought items into the model. Almost all my past work has been for artists for whom highly exacting tolerances are of less importance.

Thanks for the ideas on specializing - most of my background is in managing ‘green’ projects from the business end - maybe thats just what I need to focus on - wind turbines, photovoltaic components, etc…just build a portfolio based on this specialty and start networking from there.

thanks again for taking the time…you’re helping me think in the right direction.

I can’t help you directly. but I think you should advertise yourself a little bit :slight_smile: depends on the amount of money you want to invest and the expected work. a little advetisment will expose you to the market and to many potencial partners…