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Project Needs & Requirements

Getting Started

Prototyping and manufacturing are critical components of product design and research projects, and is a process that should be continuously revisited along the life of a project. When beginning fabrication, understanding the multiple possible methods and materials is a challenging step, with many possible answers.

Generally, when ready to fabricate, you should follow the basic set of steps below:

Understanding these steps, and choosing the best routes are a blend of experience, trial and error, and engineering analysis. Northwestern has many resources available to assist you in this process, which can provide you contacts with experience in fabrication, design and engineering experts, projects and programs to expose yourself to new manufacturing techniques, and tools to begin your projects.


Modeling & CAD Resources

Sketching and CAD modeling are one of the first stages in preparing to make a part or prototype. Make Northwestern has various CAD resources which can provide the tools required to begin this process.

Course Enrollment

Courses which utilize fabrication facilities often utilize a project which requires students enrolled to utilize a specific set of equipment or manufacturing processes to fabricate the project. Once completed, the skills acquired in these classes can be applied to numerous other projects. Course projects are an excellent place to begin learning how to make and fabricate.

Faculty Staff

Some fabrication facilities have staff available to give advice on manufacturing prototypes. Staff may either be professional full-time, staff, or students who have experience within these facilities. Meeting with these experts in manufacturing is best arranged by either visiting, or contacting the facilities which house the fabrication methods you may wish to use.

Course Instructors

Course instructors, similar to staff within fabrication facilities, also have extensive experience in manufacturing and product design/development. When enrolled in courses which have manufacturing projects, the course instructors can continue to serve as expert advisors well past the length of the class.

Learn more about courses

Professional Mechanical Design Consultant

As part of the expansion of the university Instrument Shop, a position has been created to assist faculty and research projects in the design of high-end mechanical systems. This person will be available to researchers, and will be able to assist in general mechanical engineering and design, CAD/CAM design, training in CAD/CAM, and be able to assist in external machine shop and manufacturing sourcing.

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