Test yourself

Choosing Your Materials

To manufacture your prototype you need to think about which materials you would choose to make your prototype and also think about which materials you would use to make the product in real life.

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Manufacturing your prototype

  • To manufacture your prototype you need to think about which materials you would choose to make your prototype and also think about which materials you would use to make the product in real life.
  • Due to budget and time constraints, the prototype you make at school could be different from what the real thing would be made from. But this needs to be discussed and evident in your design development section.
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  • The function of a material is really important.
  • You should think about whether it will work without breaking. For example, you wouldn't make a kettle out of something that could melt.
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  • Knowing the properties of your chosen materials is really important.
  • You may need to test out the materials before you finally select them.
  • This does not always mean how strong they are but how easy it is to join them together or to paint.

How Your Prototype Will Function

Consider how each part of your prototype will function.

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  • Strength - will it be long lasting and not break from wear and tear?
  • Movement - is it durable and flexible enough for its job?
  • Electrical and thermal - does it need to allow electricity or heat to transfer through it or not?
  • Cost - is it an acceptable cost? Are there cheaper alternatives?
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  • Aesthetics - how the material looks or can be finished is important because you want your prototype to look at much like your final design as possible.
  • For example MDF provides a different quality of finish when painted compared to softwoods with a grain.
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  • Environment - is the material you are choosing environmentally friendly?
  • Is it made from recycled material or can it be recycled?
  • How will the material be processed at the end of the product life?
  • Can it be re-used rather than go to landfill?
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Ethical and social factors

  • Supporting products that are fair trade (the people making the materials get a fair wage).
  • Timber that is from an ethical source and not from cutting down rainforests - for example, the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) - means the planet's resources are not being used up without consideration.
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Cultural factors

  • Cultural factors - for example before the 1980s animal fur such as fur coats were fashionably acceptable, however today many people would not buy products that are made using animal fur.
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Availability and access

  • Availability and access to your chosen materials or components are really important.
  • There is no point choosing a material that you cannot easily get hold of during your manufacturing.
  • Components such as bolts, fasteners, buttons, LEDs need to be selected if you can access them and not wait weeks for them to arrive.
  • This should be decided on when modelling so you know you will have them for your final prototype.

Jump to other topics

1Core Technical Principles

2Paper & Board: Specialist Technical Principles

3Timber: Specialist Technical Principles

4Metal: Specialist Technical Principles

5Polymers: Specialist Technical Principles

6Textiles: Specialist Technical Principles

7Designing & Making Principles

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