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Prototyping Glossary

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Common Prototyping Terms

Style - Prototype:

Using hand-loads to be most cost effective, our prototype molds are built for speed and train and error. Prototype molds are built for minimal production (under 1000 parts) and parts with a short life span.

Style - Bridge:

Bridge tooling describes the process where parts are produced at an early state in the product development cycle, but when the quantity of parts may make prototyping an uneconomical option. There are a number of requirements that drive the need for a bridge mold, including the production intent material needed for testing purposes. This mold is built for automatic runs, mid-level production, and part production with a medium life span (under 50,000 parts).

Style - Production:

Mold built with hardened steel for high-volume, recurring annual orders. Mold possesses a long life span (good for 100,000+ parts per year).


Complexity refers to amount of detailed geometry your part requires as well as stress, gates, thickness, draft, material and texture. A washer-like part would be considered low complexity and a gear could be considered a high complexity part.


The Engineering Resource Center's max run size is 10" x 15" and smaller. (Small = smaller than a golf ball; Medium = size of a softball; Large = approximately the size of a football.)

Lead Time:

Lead time refers to the time between the initial phase of the design and development process to the part completion. Prototype and bridge tools have standard lead times of 4 weeks. An expedited fee can be applied to get your parts quicker (in as little as 2 weeks). Production tools have a standard lead time of 8 weeks and can be expedited to as little as 6 weeks.

Polish / Finish:

The surface finish of a part is an important factor in regards to moldability, cost and production time. Polishing should be considered when cutter marks are visible on the surface of your part. Texturing should be considered on areas of a part that are drafted at least 3 degrees.


Undercuts refer to a protuberance or indentation that impedes withdrawal from a two-piece rigid mold. A portion of the part geometry that prevents the part from being ejected without a portion of the mold passing through (and destroying) the part.