Prototyping extrusions can be difficult and costly for a lot of reasons. Many engineers have traditionally approached the prototyping of these two products through two means: machining billet into a close net shape or producing tooling and extruding the prototypes. These processes have large drawbacks:
Extrusion Machining Issues :
Wastes a lot material and machining/programming time making them very costly in low volumes.
Struggles to mill certain features common to extrusions like thin walls, deep draws without draft and sharp angles.
Is very time consuming. Getting iterations of machined parts will generally either take 3 to 6 weeks or rack up heavy expedite fees.
Extrusion Tooling Issues:
Requires long lead times. Creating tooling for exact extrusions generally takes up to 12 weeks to produce a run of prototypes.
Is extremely expensive for low-volume prototype runs, costing from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars for a tool that may only be used once.
Prototyping your extrusions with additive manufacturing alleviates all of the issues presented by traditional processes.
3D Printed Extrusion Solutions:
3D printed parts require no tooling at all. Only pay per part that you make.
Lead times can be as little as a business day for plastic and a week for metal extrusion prototypes.
3D printed prototypes can do all the features with which machining struggles, walls as thin as 0.020", zero draft draws as deep as 12 - 14" (or longer), and sharp angles with no radii.