Professional Prototypes


Q: How much does it cost to build a prototype?
A: This is a very common question. Our surprisingly accurate answer to that is; A prototype costs exactly the same as a used car. This is why we always ask our customers what their budget is and what purpose the prototype should fulfill.
Q: I'm not sure how to explain it, but can you make a thing, that goes on top of this piece, that enable this part over here to rotate around and bend slightly over to this side? Perhaps a metal of some sort, or maybe a hard plastic?
A: Yes. Don't worry, this is what we do every day.


Q: Do you make custom aluminium molds for potting of subsea electronic parts and high performance gas leak detectors?
A: Yes.


Q: Can you help us design, fabricate and build a test chamber for low pressure laminar flow in a liquid?
A: Yes.


Q: We have a test rig we destroyed in our lab, can you design a new one?
A: Even better, we will design it with added safety features. 


Q: What CAD file types can you open?
A: Pretty much every file type there is out there. We use Onshape Professional here at BLJ Engineering and Parasolid is our preferred import format.

Q: Can you fabricate just a single part for us that we need for our project?
A: Yes. 

Q: Do you repair tractor axles or hair dryers?

A: No, nor do we make replacement parts for new things that are mass produced simply because it would cost you way to much. As a rule of thumb, it is impossible to produce a single part of anything that is mass produced for less than 10x the cost of just buying a new one. 

We do help out with modification and enhancements on specialized lab equipment, accessibility products and vintage products.

Some tips on the process of making a prototype


Purposes, goals and limitations are important aspects of any project. Ask yourself;

  • Is your prototype supposed to run unattended for 10 years or are you making a proof of concept to your investors?
  • Does it need to be waterproof?
  • Are you in the final stages of assembly or is this the very first part?
  • Do you need it to be exactly as per drawing or can we make some suggestions?

Maybe you just want to fix a pure technical problem and doesn't really care if the thing is blue or green, or how large the shaft diameter is. Or maybe vibration was a problem in the past so you wish to add dampers to your design. We will help you sort these things out and we usually spot a few more important details along the way.


What is your budget?


This sets a definitive standard for the project, even if it's a simple part. 

Try to make some notes on what's important and what's not. A simple list might look something like this:


  • Operator safety is our main concern (note the area marked in red -pinching hazard).
  • Make it as light as possible but still able to carry a load of 12kg.
  • It should look streamlined on the outside but the parts can be rearranged on the inside as this is a demo piece.
  • The placements of the ventilation holes on the back panel is non-critical but the rubber feet are already in stock so they must line up with the flange.
  • Parts A and C are in design freeze (except for the internal radius -we can tolerate up to 3.8mm).
  • Parts B and D: We're thinking something like this (link to example photos from web). Is this possible within budget?


If your company is working on new innovative technology, the limitations might not be clear at first. For start-ups and entrepreneurs, new markets and new customers are a challenging feat. Our tip is to focus on what your goals are with this specific prototype. Define what purpose the prototype or part should fulfill. This should be no more than two or three bullet points. For example:



  • Testing power output and logging all relevant data.
  • Running seven different live demos following a month of training.
  • Need to have two different configurations on the isotope collector.

If you supply us with these two short lists, they are an excellent starting point for narrowing in on a solid solution. It's all in the details when it comes to design for manufacturability.


Some customer have CAD models or drawings in various stages, others just start with a phone call. We actually prefer to get in touch with you as soon as possible. In fact, a mobile photo of a simple sketch on a piece of paper, and the bullet points from above, is all it takes to get started. Our goal is to find the best solution for you within all those constraints. 


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