So you have developed a technology that you believe can be a viable electro-mechanical device but you only have a lab or bench top concept right now. You will need to present your idea and get investors interested so you can start some fund raising rounds to go forward. Nothing speaks to people like being able to hold something in their hand.
You need a prototype.
The more of the basic technology functionality you can show off in the prototype the more receptive your audience is to it. It shows that the idea is more than a dream and more than a good lab experiment and being able to hold it and connect to it can make all the difference. But how should you build it?
These days many people ask: Do you have a 3D printer to make the prototypes? I answer, No, we do not. Why? While this is a good and improving technology, what many people don’t realize is that in many cases a modern manufacturer can machine what you need in less time and lower cost. That’s right, faster and less expensive.
Also consider functionality. 3D printer components often will not be able to provide the structural integrity, especially when produced with a stereo lithography process, which will be needed to display function of moving parts. Even on smaller load bearing components the print process can leave a layered and rough surface for mating parts that makes operation uneven and noisy.
Does 3D printing have a place? Sure does, but so does more traditional manufacturing and you may be surprised what can be done in a modern facility. So don’t lock yourself into a process path at first but engage a manufacturing partner that can provide you with cost effective solutions.