A model is a likeness of a device or product that looks similar to the object it represents, and is mostly used for demonstration purposes. Models are usually not constructed from materials used in the final product, but at Omnica, the look-alike could surprise all but the most critical observers.
Models are usually developed after initial concepting. When our designers and clients have agreed on a basic design in Phase 1, we generate a number of 3D CAD models. In Phase 2, if the project warrants, we can build physical models for ergonomic testing purposes and to show investors or trade show attendees exactly what a device, instrument, or consumable will look like in person. We can build models that range in size from that of a pea, to the mass of a large refrigerator. Years ago, Mike (at right) constructed a full-sized model of a Russian tank.
They look like the real thing.
We use a combination of methods for construction, but usually export our 3D models to one of our rapid prototyping machines and either build the entire device or develop casting patterns to be used in silicone molds. We have a well-equipped silicone casting area where we can mold urethane parts up to about the size of a breadbox. Afterwards, we have a spray booth to paint our handiwork and match the colors of the final product.
An important element of the design and engineering process
According to Mike Ammerman, our chief modelmaker (for nearly 15 years), "There is more to modelmaking today than there was in the past. When I started, everything was built from hand drawings in mostly acrylic and foam. Materials like the new urethanes are robust, and can mimic some engineering plastics. They can also be constructed faster and much more accurately these days. Those two factors have made modelmaking an important part of the design process. Customers are asking for models more often for product testing and sales demonstrations, because it makes a big difference when you can hold something in your hand."