Potomac Proving Ground

Fabrication of Pre-Prototyping Parts in as fast as 24 hours.

Not ready for actual parts but want to test a theory or design….. The Potomac Proving Ground is perfect place to start.

Potomac has set-up two prototyping work stations that are dedicated for rapid turnaround of Kapton (polyimide) and thin stainless steel parts.

If you are still in the design phase and tolerances and inspection data are not critical, the Potomac Proving Ground may be the best place to quickly and cost-effectively fabricate your parts.

Once you have proven that the design will work, you can transition the work to the leader in microfabrication technology, Potomac Photonics, to fabricate your parts to spec. in prototype and production volumes.

We will apply up to 50% of  your final order from the Potomac Proving Ground to your first order at Potomac Photonics. 

What are Pre-Prototyping parts?

  • Pre-Prototyping are parts that are laser cut or drilled on Potomac laser systems that are optimized for speed and rapid turn around. 
  • These parts may or may not meet exact specifications or tolerances and meant primarily to finalize a design before moving on to actual prototype production at Potomac Photonics.
  • Typically, these parts cost less than actual prototypes.
  • This is a great place to start if you want to test several designs before committing to actual prototypes.
  • Very often the set-up price for actual prototypes will be less if you have Pre-Prototyping parts fabricated.
  • Thin Stainless Steel and Kapton films are the only materials offered in the Potomac Proving Ground.  However, additional materials will be added soon.


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Design Rules for Potomac Proving Ground

  • Maximum overall size
    • The overall part size should be less than 40 mm x 40 mm to be compatible with our equipment.
  • File format
    •  Only files in DXF format can be processed.
  • Drawing elements
    • The DXF drawing should consist only of lines, polylines, circles and arcs. Use of ellipses, elliptical arcs, splines, bezier curves, etc. will cause the file to be rejected.
    • The presence of 3D elements in the drawing will also cause it to be rejected.
  • Overlaps
    • Duplicated or overlapping drawing elements will cause segments to be cut more than once. These will be reported as drawing errors, since they can impact the quality of the part.
  • Identification and location of drawing errors
    • If your submitted drawing has problems that will not allow fabrication on our systems, the problems will be summarized on a report page. The X-Y location of overlapping and 3D elements can be viewed by clicking on the “Download Problem Summary” button.
  • Beam width compensation
    • Submitted designs will be cut exactly as submitted. The cut pattern will not be adjusted to compensate for width of the laser cutting beam. The cut width and edge wall taper that should be expected for various substrate materials are summarized below. Please review your drawings for compatibiity with the laser cutting characteristics.
  • Taper
    • For all materials, the vertical angle of laser-cut edges is typically 10 degrees.
  • Kerf width
    • For Kapton substrates, the width of the laser cut (kerf width) is approximately 20 microns at the bottom of the cut.
    • For stainless steel substrates, the width of the laser cut (kerf width) is approximately 30 micron at the bottom of the cut
  • Minimum hole size
    • For all materials, the minimum hole diameter is 50 microns.
  • Preshipment inspection
    • Post processing, preshipment inspection of parts will be limited to measurement of outside dimensions and confirmation of slug removal.


For help with questions about the Potomac Proving Ground processing, please contact us at:
[email protected]
Tel: 301-459-3031

Need smaller sizes, different materials, tighter tolerances, or more inspection?

Potomac Proving Ground processing is intended to provide the fastest possible turnaround at the lowest possible price. However, in our standard microfabrication program, we can offer miniature part sizes, tolerances, and quality control services that are at the state-of-the-art. For microfabrication services customized to your needs, please contact us at:
[email protected]
Tel: 301-459-3031