How to Leverage McMaster-Carr for Rapid R&D

by | Mar 20, 2020

How we Leverage the CAD database for our projects
Designing a new product or device can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to sourcing hardware components, raw materials, and tools. In the early stages of creating physical prototypes, rapid assembly and design testing are crucial processes in determining what sort of fasteners, materials, and components you will need. Leveraging the vast selection of products from McMaster-Carr is a powerful strategy to put into practice early on. There are over 580,000 products to choose from with most accompanied by a unique CAD model that can be downloaded and dropped into any 3D assembly, especially Solidworks, as they have native files for download.

How can you get parts and how fast?
Type “CAD” into the Mcmaster-Carr search bar and a help window will pop up listing all of the products which have CAD models for download. They have high-speed shipping times and there are no minimum order limits. We use McMaster-Carr in all of your R&D projects because it gives us the speed and flexibility needed when designing and prototyping innovative solutions for our clients.

According to an article by, McMaster-Carr is a business-to-business company and does not sell to individuals. Some customers circumvent the restriction by registering a small business to become an established customer. This, however, does not reflect our experience with McMaster-Carr as many of our “solo” clients have purchased parts without needing to prove a business status. Simply create an account with a name, an email, an address, payment information and you’re on your way. The time for purchased parts to arrive on your doorstep is incredibly fast! Our R&D offices are located in Reno, NV where some of our components and supplies arrive overnight. This allows for quick testing and prototyping, especially if combined with 3D printing techniques.

McMaster-Carr and 3D printing
The great thing about having access to dimensionally accurate CAD models for download is that they are able to be 3D printed if they fit within your machine’s build area. Say you need some brackets for extruded aluminum framing; however, you can’t wait overnight for a shipment to confirm if the parts will work with your design. Instead, configure the CAD models to be 3D printed by converting the file (STP, SLDPRT, IGS, etc..) into an STL file, and print.

While 3D printed parts may not provide the rigidity or strength required for your prototype to function, it will allow you to test various aspects of the design before you order the components from McMaster-Carr such as fit and finish. You can also use them to make a mockup of a concept without spending time and money. There are other components that cannot be 3D printed such as nuts and bolts, yet are necessary for construction and testing prototypes.

Fasteners and Jointing
The days of having to model screws, nuts, and bolts for a design assembly are over. You never have to model up a fastener for an assembly again when you use McMaster-Carr’s massive CAD database. The great thing about their website is it’s easy to navigate to a particular type of fastener. You can filter the selection based on measurement system, thread size, material, and more. If you are designing using Solidworks, a lot of these part files are actually generated from an assembly which means you can easily manipulate multiple parts and configurations to fit into your assembly with flexibility. In addition, every part comes with a dimensioned engineering drawing, making it easy to check for fit and see if it would work well with your project.

Power Transmission
Need gears, bearings, belt pulleys, and shaft couplings for your project? McMaster-Carr has you covered. We use them to acquire many power transmission components for our designs. One of our more recent projects, the 3DM-1000 3D printer, required us to design many power transmission systems for the X-axis and rotary axis. Making sure our design worked before commissioning CNC machining is always a must, so being able to source the correct parts to test the design in CAD was very useful. Sourcing correct components with accurate data sheets can be difficult if you are searching the internet for suppliers. McMaster-Carr sorts them by many attributes similar to how fasteners are sorted so that you can be sure the components you find will work together before you order.

Raw Materials
Many raw materials of an array of sizes and shapes can be sourced from McMaster-Carr. Large sheets of plastic, metal piping and rubbers can be sourced with little effort complete with material data such as Shore Hardness. Extruded aluminum framing is extremely useful and easy to build with when it comes to manufacturing machines and larger systems. McMaster-Carr has a wide range of extruded aluminum profiles complete with CAD files for easy design assembly.

Prototyping Asset
The advantage McMaster-Carr offers to the research and development team is speed and flexibility which is crucial when you’re up against a tight deadline or trying to beat a competitor to market. McMaster-Carr has way more categories of materials and supplies than covered in this article, and we implore you to visit their site and take a look at what they have to offer.

However, if searching through 580,000 product listings is overwhelming for you, Magarin Dynamics specializes in assisting you quickly since crawling through McMaster-Carr is half of what we do! What if you’re outside of the United States? It makes no difference for us; we are able to consult and work with you navigating through the site.

If you want to leverage McMaster-Carr and need to rapidly prototype your product, contact us through our Ioterra profile or visit our site:

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