The 3D printing and subsequent IET
allowed us to perfect the shape of our ceramic headshell. But what's next, how do we go from the CAD model and material choice to the actual prototype?
A few approaches are possible. You can contact a specialized universal prototyping company, but prepare to pay a lot. Typically, even the simplest prototype like our headshell would have a 5-figure budget.
Alternatively, you could use an aggregator like Alibaba
and select a company from the Far East that would build the prototype cheaply in hope of getting a mass production contract. But, there is a communication barrier. Most likely, the first prototype you receive (and pay for) would significantly deviate from your requirements. Multiple iterations are usually needed, and the costs do add up quickly.
The second problem with the Far Eastern approach is the safekeeping of your intellectual property. If your products is reasonably simple (like our headshell here), chances are someone else would start producing it before you've even finished evaluating your prototypes.
There's a third approach—contact Korf Audio! We maintain a list of trusted specialist partners, largely based in the EU. Many don't even have websites, or don't advertize their prototyping services. And we always design with cost-effective prototyping and manufacturing in mind.