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Printing prototypes for friends in industry

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I have a friend who works for a small company (about 20 employees). He has asked me to print him a prototype of a thing they are going to sell.

I am really curious to see if my Ultimaker is up to the challenge of printing something useful for the "free market".

But at the same time I am concerned about legal issues and about the possibility of my beloved UM not being capable of doing real prototyping (in the narrower sense).

Would anyone please post their opinion?

Have you ever tried to make a protoytpe for work (or the work of a friend)?

Is it unethical (or even legal) to take money for making a prototype (even if it is just for the filament)?

Greetings Jump


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It really depends on the requirements for what is to be produced. Arguably the reason that 3D printing was developed was for prototyping, and the Ultimaker is a perfectly good example of the fused-filament fabrication branch of the industry. Plenty of people are making prototypes and some people are making full production units of their products using Ultimaker printers. It's not well suited for all types of item, but for many it's a great fit.

The main consideration will probably be to do with the tolerances that are acceptable, the mechanical and heat resistance that is needed, and the scale of detail that has to be reproduced - and your skill and experience in setting up the printer to get the best out of it.

Why don't you work on your friend's project, on the understanding that you want x amount of money for your time and materials, but with full disclosure up front that you're uncertain of the outcome, and so will only expect payment if the end result is to their satisfaction? That way, you set reasonable expectations and in the worst case you aren't on the hook for a something you couldn't deliver. Assuming it works out just fine - and it probably will - then in future you'll have more experience, expertise and confidence to price out more jobs if you want to, and your friend will have more confidence in you, and in the Ultimaker.


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I don't know anything about the laws in Germany but I'm guessing you'll have to pay taxes for the new income? But I really don't have a clue to be honest hehe. Also, why would it be unethical to take money for doing work? Unless your time is worthless to you, go ahead and charge whatever you want IMHO.

As for the UM being up to the task, well that depends entirely on what kind of prototype you're going to be printing of course :)


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A job is a job, and prototyping is a job. There are entire firms/machine shops where all they do is prototype stuff. But like roberti mentioned you have to pay taxes on income (or at least you do where I live). We even have some fancy names such as "independent contracting" that we can label this type of work.

If this is going to be a real source of income, you should definitely talk to a tax guy, he'll straighten everything out and should make sure you are given the correct documentation so no one can get in trouble for money stuff.

I myself do a little bit of independent contracting where I use my ultimaker every once and a while for business (when it's not printing me awesome things). One of the laws I did run into though is a city law that states "you are not allowed to produce products from your house if signs of the production (sound, smell, ect) leave the premise". But Ill bet your laws differ, so you could check those out. Generally though if no one can hear, smell, or see your production most of these types of zoning laws don't apply, some even have exceptions to things like prototypes for engineering and design type work.

Again, if this is going to be a real source of income you could head on down to your city hall, and ask the people in charge of small business licences, they will know all the ins and outs for this type of work.


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independent contracting...

sounds good *g*

Okay, thank you all for your opinions about that. That really helped me a lot.

@ IRobertI:

I am going to print a large round object. about 500gr filament WITH 20% infill already. This is like the biggest thing i ever decided to print and I have no experience with such big objects.



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