Creating a prototype is an important step in the product development process. It allows you to create a working model of your product or service before its actual launch and get feedback from potential customers. In this article, we will discuss how to create a prototype and some tips on getting it right every time.
What is A Prototype?
A prototype is a rough model or preliminary version of something that is still in the process of being developed or created. In the world of product design and development, prototyping refers to the creation of early-stage designs that are used to test ideas and validate concepts before full production begins.
What is a physical prototype?
A physical prototype is a physical representation of your product or idea. This could be anything from a cardboard cutout to a CNC or 3D-printed model. A functional prototype is a physical prototype that can be used to validate the functionality of your product or idea. This could be anything from a mockup of your app to a working model of your product.
Why Does Create A Prototype?
There are two main types of prototypes: physical and virtual. A physical prototype is an actual, three-dimensional version of the product being designed. They are often used to test the actual functionality and appearance of a product.
Virtual prototype, on the other hand, is computer-generated models of the product. They can be used to analyze things like various parameters and assemblies. The following is why you need to make a prototype.
1. It enables you to test and improve the functionality of your design.
The first prototype is usually the most basic version of your product idea. This is the prototype that you use to test the feasibility of your product or idea.
Many times, your idea works in theory. It’s not until you start actually creating it that you come across a flaw in your thinking. That’s why an important reason to develop the first prototype is to test the functionality of your idea. You will never know the problems and challenges of design until you start to take your ideas from theory to reality.
2. It encourages people to take you more seriously.
When you meet any professional with a prototype in your hand — from your own lawyer to potential investors — you set yourself apart from dozens of people with vague ideas. Instead, you’ll be seen as a goal-oriented professional, not just an inventor simply with a potential idea.
3. It creates ways to test the performance of various materials.
For example, you might want to use metal originally — until you test its prototype and realize that plastic performs better with fewer costs in your particular application. Making prototypes will help you determine the best material.
4. It will help you and your team present your products and make decisions more effectively.
When it comes to product display, prototyping is essential. A prototype is an early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process. It allows prototype designers to make changes and adjustments before mass production begins.
4 Simple Steps For Creating A Product Prototype
There are 4 simple steps in the prototyping process before getting a final product idea. A prototype designer starts with:
- Craft product ideas with the target audience in the mind.
- Create a concept sketch or visual prototype with coding and image design in a digital drawing program.
- Creating a product prototype.
- Apply to finish to get the final prototype.
1. List Your Idea Information
When you have a business idea, it’s important to create prototypes to test the feasibility of your final product. Prototyping helps you understand what your customers want and how they will interact with your product. Basic prototypes also allow you to make changes to your product before you invest too much time and money into developing a final product.
2. Ready For Prototype Design
If you’ve been brainstorming business ideas, chances are you have a few concepts that you’re excited about. But how do you take those ideas and turn them into a digital prototype? And how do you know if your idea is even feasible to manufacture?
2.1 Make a Sketch
The sketching starts from the shape of the side. Considering the best combination of the parting line and the whole. The sketches are mainly rough creation, which needs to consider man-machine, structural form, dismantling method, material, etc., as the design plan goes deeper and gradually it will be different. Generally, three views can be drawn to show the appearance and structure of the product from multiple angles.
2.2 3D Modeling
By using 3D software it can construct the physical model of the product in the virtual 3D space. The internal stack and approximate dimensions can be quickly established to understand the approximate size ratio. Commonly used CAD modeling software include Solidworks, Catia, Pro/E, UG, etc.
2.3 Make Effect Pictures
Before the real physical products are available, use software to color the 3D model, showing different angles and different color combinations. The effect pictures are good for online display promotion. Through the comparison of different effects on the software, the best color matching scheme of the product can be obtained in advance.
3. Making A Physical Prototype
It is essential to make a product prototype to have a rough idea. It is important to manufacture a simple prototype to save the production cost on the expensive materials if the virtual sketch has any flaws.
There are many different methods for creating prototypes, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some of the most common include 3D printing, CNC prototyping, and vacuum casting.
It falls in one of the manufacturing techniques of the prototyping domain termed “additive manufacturing”. 3D Printing is a great idea to manufacture the physical product by following a computer-aided design. The design process includes electronically generated drawings with a digital sketch on software like SolidWorks, Creo, and many more.
Third-party programming libraries, such as Autodesk’s 123D Design and Tinkercad, allow users to create 3D objects without the need for expensive CAD software. Industrial equipment, such as 3D printers, can be expensive, but the cost of 3D printing has been dropping rapidly in recent years.
-It is a fast process, once the 3D model is created it can be printed quickly. The physical product can be tested before the final design.
-It is a relatively save money method. Size and design-related errors can be removed in the early stages by making 3D models rather than mass-producing the actual product.
-3D printed prototypes can have very intricate designs and details that wouldn’t be possible with other prototyping methods.
-The materials used in 3D printing are not as strong or durable as those used in other manufacturing methods, so they may not be suitable for all applications.
-3D printed prototypes can be time-consuming and expensive to produce if the design is complex or intricate.
If you’re looking for potential customers for your product or service, CNC prototyping is a cost effective way to go. It is a popular manufacturing process for creating accurate and durable prototypes. Also, it’s a great way to get metal and plastic prototypes from machine shops.
CNC Prototyping is a process of using CAD designs to create physical prototypes from 3D models. It is often used to raise money for new product development or to reduce the high cost of traditional prototyping methods.
-CNC prototyping is a very accurate method, allowing for tight tolerances and fine details.
-The materials used in CNC prototyping are typically very strong and durable, making them suitable for high-stress applications.
-It can be used to create prototypes from a wide range of materials, including various plastic and metal materials.
-CNC prototyping is an expensive method, due to the cost of the equipment and expertise required.
-The prototype depends on the machine. It is a time-consuming process, especially for complex designs.
-Specialized equipment and training are required in order to produce CNC prototypes.
Vacuum Casting is a versatile and relatively low-cost method for creating prototypes from a wide range of materials. This process involves creating a mold from a 3D-printed or CNC-machined master model, and then pouring liquid material into the mold and curing it under vacuum. Vacuum casting can be used to make prototypes from both thermoplastic and thermoset materials, making it a good option for a wide range of applications.
-Vacuum casting is relatively low cost since the molds can be reused many times.
-The materials used in vacuum casting are typically flexible and durable and can be used to create prototypes that are suitable for functional testing.
-It is a scalable process, making it well suited to projects with small batches of components and parts.
-The molds used in vacuum casting are typically single-use, meaning that each prototype must be cast from a new mold.
– It is a slower process than some other methods, such as 3D printing.
-The materials used in vacuum casting may not be as strong or durable as those used in other methods.
4. Testing Prototype
Testing a prototype is important because it allows you to identify any potential problems with your product before it goes to market. This can save time and money in the long run, as well as ensure that your product is of the highest quality possible. There are a number of different ways to test a prototype, including user testing, functional testing, and stress testing.
- User testing involves putting your product into the hands of real users and seeing how they interact with it. This can give you valuable feedback on things like usability and user experience.
- Functional testing is a more technical form of testing that looks at how your product works from a technical standpoint. This can help you identify any potential bugs or glitches that need to be fixed before release.
- Stress testing is a type of testing that simulates real-world conditions to see how your product holds up. This can be important for products that will be used in demanding environments, such as outdoor gear or medical devices.
Overall, each of these prototyping methods has its own advantages and disadvantages. When choosing the best method for a particular application, it is important to consider factors such as cost, speed, material properties, and design complexity. Ultimately, the perfect product prototyping method will depend on your specific needs and goals.
5 Tips To Make A Prototype
Understand intellectual property – it’s important to understand intellectual property and how to protect your ideas. You don’t want to invest time and resources into something that someone else can easily copy. Consult with a patent attorney or intellectual property adviser to get started.
Non-disclosure agreements – It’s also important to have a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in place before you start sharing your idea with others. This will help protect you from someone stealing your idea.
Feedback – Once you have a prototype, it’s important to get feedback from potential customers. This will help you refine your product and make sure it’s something people actually want.
Test your prototype – Don’t forget to test your prototype! Make sure it’s durable and can withstand the rigors of use.
Find a manufacturer – When you’re ready to mass produce your product, it’s important to find a manufacturer you can trust. Make sure they have experience with the type of product you’re making.
1. How much does it cost to manufacture a prototype?
The manufacturing cost entirely depends on the size, type, and design of the product. To get a real-time quote for your design, upload the CAD file or send your project message through the quote page on our website.
2. Where can I find a manufacturer to make a prototype?
WayKen offers prototyping services and has employed experienced engineers to help you with your project. You can contact us anytime and get professional consultancy.
3. Does a homemade sample count as an official prototype?
Yes, if a homemade sample is working then it can be called an official prototype. It does not need to use the final materials nor does it needs to be perfect.
Next Step: Making Your Own Prototype
Now that you’ve seen how to create a basic prototype, it’s time to start thinking about making your own. The process of creating a prototype is important for any product development project, as it allows you to explore different design options, visualize the end product and make sure that everything flows together correctly.
WayKen is a rapid prototyping and low-volume manufacturing company focusing on plastic and metal parts, with a one-stop shop from prototype to production. We offer CNC machining, 3D printing, vacuum casting, and rapid tooling services to fulfill your individual product design demands.