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The lab is a collection of hands on tools including an FDM 3D printer, pressure chamber for submersion testing, soldering station, dremel tool and various other tools and materials for prototyping and testing.

We routinely create custom test fixtures for a variety of sensing requirements, utilizing Arduino boards to interface digitally with these tests.

Projects requiring precise machining, specialty materials or processes are sent out to be fabricated and are then assembled and tested in the Pinion Lab.

Lab and Process: Welcome




Process: a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.

Procedure: an established or official way of doing something.

To say there is an established “series of actions” or an “official way” in the Pinion process would be like saying every product is the same.

Every project is treated as a unique opportunity and each project presents a different set of needs. At Pinion Engineering, experience defines processes and the necessity to apply particular procedures.


In general, Pinion follows the Phase system adopted by most design firms and PD firms of the bay area. Experience tells us that all phases are not necessary all the time - though sometimes very necessary. We will customize your development and design process to your particular needs and budget.

PHASE 1. Ideation

PHASE 2. Feasibility

PHASE 3. Product development

Prototype (PROTO)

Engineering Validation Test (EVT)

Design Validation Test (DVT)

PHASE 4. Pilot production

Production Validation Test (PVT)

PHASE 5. Full commercialization

Mass Production (MP)



Specifically, Pinion uses a host of design tools including sketching, computer simulation, bread-board prototypes, 3d printed prototypes and testing equipment specific to project needs.

Early iteration with low-tech, low-cost sketching, fleshes out early brainstorm ideas. Sketching evolves quickly to breadboard prototypes that can be as simple as “paper dolls” or as complicated as an assemblage of arduinos, modified off-the-shelf parts, 3d printed or machined parts and plenty of tape and glue.


Bread-boards are used as the DNA of the CAD model. The CAD model is developed as a whole or starts with sub-systems that are then combined to make a whole, global system. The way to a complicated system happens one step at a time.

Finite Element Analysis (FEA) provides yet another check and means of evolution. With FEA we can optimize parts for weight, balance, strength and overall performance.



The developed CAD model can then be reviewed, checked for feasibility, provide Bill of Materials, photorealistic renderings for early catalog or web presence presentations, manufacturing procurement packages and the first “looks-like, works-like” prototype.

Once a design reaches this point, manufacturers are selected and Design for Manufacturing (DFM) for the particular manufacturer is started. Drawings and prototypes follow with site visits, revision control, pilot runs, tooling reviews and first article inspection (FAI).

Mass production is then supported as needed along with packaging design and additional marketing material.

“But you are in Montana…”

Geographically we are in Montana. Digitally we are in your office. With the use of online meeting places, screen sharing and FedEx, it is almost like having an in-house design team. 95% of Pinion clients are outside of Montana - we currently serve clients in New York, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco and Mexico City!

Lab and Process: Projects
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