What Role does Rapid Prototyping Play in Product Development?

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Posted on: Sep 10, 2018, | By Judy, WayKen Project Manager

Product development is a complex process for many companies, especially for complex and high-tech products. Therefore, many companies are looking for opportunities to increase the efficiency of product development process. The most effective way is to use prototypes, or we can call it, product development prototyping, combining explicit prototyping strategies and the use of prototyping processes.

Prototype development is an important activity in most new product development processes. It is a valuable tool, whether the goal is to explore new opportunities or to improve existing solutions.

Prototyping is an activity and tool that has received widespread attention in the product development research community in recent years. Early prototyping has become an important activity as people become more focused on adopting design thinking in a variety of business and product development areas.

Contrary to the “product proof” role that often provides prototyping in traditional engineering, prototyping in design thinking has a more exploratory role. Prototyping is not used to validate ideas, but can be used to stimulate imagination or as a tool for “building thinking.” Therefore, the speed of prototyping and subsequent testing is a key factor.

Prototype design research covers a wide range of research areas. From engineering design to thinking design then prototyping, pushing to illustrate the diversity and to provide the reader with an overview of the various roles undertaken by prototyping, a brief description is given below.

Engineering Design

Prototyping in engineering design is often used for a variety of purposes. The most common is to validate assumptions, calculations, and decisions during development, and answer to two basic questions: “Does it work?” and “How does it meet customer needs?” “Early prototypes” are usually not officially designed. Only when the development team deems it necessary. Developing a “milestone prototype” is the most important use of prototyping in engineering design.

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Design Thinking

In DT, prototyping plays a very different role. The main purpose here is usually to promote development and turn new ideas into preliminary models that can be evaluated. Prototyping – at a very early stage – can also be used as a tool to “develop” through building thinking. Development teams typically build and test prototypes from the very beginning of the project. This means that speed is crucial. How quickly the team can build prototypes, test prototypes, and implement the lessons learned in the next iteration is a key factor in making progress.

 

Rapid Prototyping

In the field of prototyping, prototypes can usually be processed by additive manufacturing (for example 3D printing) and subtractive manufacturing (for example CNC machining). Materials are generally divided into metal and plastic. The development of prototype processing technology has been perfected today. The processed prototype not only has the advantages of visibility, but also has the functional use function, which greatly facilitates the designer to understand and improve their design.

Prototype design plays a key role in the process of product development. Making decisions without knowing the background can be dangerous. In order to make a reasonable decision about the prototype strategy, it is necessary to determine the context.

1. Organizational Culture

This may be one of the most important factors in the prototype strategy. It is also one of the most difficult to measure and change. In this respect, the organizational culture of startups is significantly different from that of large, mature organizations in prototyping.

One of the major cultural differences in this regard is whether the company uses specification-driven prototype or prototype-driven specifications. Startups may use multiple early prototypes to develop more innovative products, and large, mature organizations may not be able to benefit from prototypes when developing mass products due to their vast experience, developing more innovative products.

These two approaches represent the basics of how to handle prototyping and will determine how an organization or development team can view and use prototyping in their product development efforts. It also has a huge impact on the ability to innovate. However, specific analysis of specific problems, and no case must be more sensible than the other case.

2. Importance of the Audience

Design should also consider the importance of the audience, and the type of audience often affects important decisions about prototype construction and presentation. Understanding the audience and their expectations help determine the resolution and fidelity of the prototype.

In general, high-resolution prototypes are preferable when seeking to impress a less professional audience, persuade or get feedback. It is important to point out that simply using the prototype as a means of persuasion can be misleading, for example, by demonstrating a gorgeous prototype, simply convince other stakeholders.

On the other hand, if the high-resolution prototype is powerful and used as a demo, it can be an effective risk mitigation tool.

3. Time in Development Process

The time in the development process is often referred to as one of the main factors determining the prototype. The general view here seems to be that the prototype has gradually become more efficient throughout the development process.

This is usually true if you consider the prototype design of the entire product system. However, various problems may arise in the later stages of development and may require a more primitive type of prototype.

4. Keep the Prototype Simple

This is a key principle in any good prototyping practice, especially for early prototyping where the overall direction of the project may change. Making things as simple as possible seems obvious, but we encourage you to take the time to identify the simplest, easiest, and cheapest way to answer key questions for prototyping purposes. Despite the extremely complex product systems, many prototyping efforts enable companies to successfully build these production systems on a budget and on time basis, often mediocre and on the verge of stupid simplicity. But it can achieve good results.

Based on the above elaboration, the following are some of the most important project or product specific contextual factors that influence the prototyping strategy.

(1)How much doubt he has about the prior knowledge and experience of the problem or product system.

(2) The role of the prototype in the design and inspection design.

(3) Interaction with the audience or vested interests.

product development prototyping-5

The prototype plays an irreplaceable role in the product development stage. It can not only be used as a tool for inspection design, but also can save a lot of money. The prototype itself is not a difficult product. Some companies specializing in prototyping are engaged in prototyping can use CNC machining, vacuum casting, aluminum machining, or even make a simple aluminum film, or undertake small-volume production orders, which greatly serve those companies that have prototypes and help them. Quickly promote their projects.

 

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Product Prototyping

Product prototyping is an integral step in the new product development process. Whether the aim is to explore new product designs or to refine solutions for existing products, the prototype development can be a valuable tool.

Why Product Prototype Development?

The "toolbox" for testing and validation in product development

The business strategy of companies has been transformed to “respond to market demand quickly”, and the time factor is above all. Under the requirement, the competitiveness of companies lies in how to create product prototypes as soon as possible to validate the design of product developers and iterate quickly to bring new products to market faster.
Product prototyping is like a “toolbox” for designers and engineers to verify that the design meets the specifications or requirements defined in the product development phase.

Product Prototype Development - WayKen
Product Prototype - WayKen

What Type of Product Prototype is Needed?

Prototype Iterations in Product Management

The initial stages of product development from concept design to prototype development is a long and complicated process. However, this stage is very necessary before moving to mass production. The appropriate utility of prototype techniques can potentially make the new product development processes more dynamic and effective, reducing the chance of failure. In fact, product prototypes can be verified throughout the entire design and development cycle, including concept models, presentation prototypes, functional prototypes, engineering prototypes, and low volume manufacturing. 

Significance of Product Prototypes in Development Process

With Rigorous Practices to Verify and Refine

Build product ideas into a manageable scope while working to establish the critical details and fully understand the design intent through proof-of-concept prototypes.

Visual presentation models empower designers to share their concepts with colleagues, clients, and stakeholders to facilitate the clear, actionable feedback.

Functional prototype development can be used to test design iterations and perfect your product’s performance. Let any issues to be discovered and corrected well before getting to a final product, and reduced business risk.

Creating engineering prototypes that match final product makes it easier to verify design, engineering, and manufacturability before investing in expensive tools and putting them into production.

Rapid tooling and custom low-volume production will be able to bridge the gap between prototype and production, and make your product go to market faster at an affordable price.

Product Prototypes in Development Process - WayKen

Build Product Prototypes for Your New Product Development

Regardless of the stage of your idea, we have an unmatched ability to quickly create highly accurate, aesthetic, and both functional and manufacturable product prototypes, allowing you to thoroughly test and validate your designs and focus on key elements of product development.

Prototype Development - WayKen

WayKen's Product Prototyping Capabilities are Available Throughout Your Development Process

WayKen has been dedicated to providing fast, efficient product prototyping and rapid manufacturing solutions for all walks of life of companies across industries, from commercial to consumer products, from instruments and equipment to digital products and appliances. We specialize in a variety of prototyping and manufacturing technologies, offering CNC machining, 3D printing, vacuum casting, rapid tooling, and low volume injection molding to maintain a competitive edge with innovative services and a highly skilled workforce. We will work together with you through every step of the product design process, striving to be your best full-service product development partner in the industry.

Product Prototypes of Instruments and Equipment

We have experience creating complex working mechanism product prototypes that simulate the end-use product to check the form and fit, ensuring that all components are accurately assembled in expensive equipment and multi-part instruments; using the same engineering-grade plastic and metal materials as the final product, verifying the mechanical function, electrical properties, chemical resistance, thermal properties and life testing of the product. As a result, you can get a clear picture of how a part or component will operate when it represents the real environment of its actual application.

Product prototype of instruments and equipment - WayKen
Product prototypes of devices commercial - WayKen

Prototyping for Commercial and Office Products

WayKen’s product prototyping capabilities are well suited for manufacturers of commercial and office automation equipment (OA products). The prototype development requires manufacturing to exact specifications that faithfully represent important attributes of the final product, such as component fit accuracy, dimensional tolerances, and mechanical properties. We leverage our technical experience in high-precision CNC machining to provide optimal manufacturing advices based on material, process, and accuracy requirements to help solve your engineering challenges and predict potential production problems.

Prototype Development for Consumer and Appliances Products

In the competitive consumer products field, everything we do here at WayKen is focused on providing the best quality prototyping in the industry — on time and cost. We can respond quickly to any project development request in a matter of days, providing one-stop support from prototype machining to surface finishing. We can create high-quality visual presentation models and fully functional engineering prototypes that are virtually identical to the real product. These prototypes can be used not only for focus groups, trade shows, and other sales and marketing events but also to facilitate design iteration, evaluation, and improvement during the product development process.

Consumer Product Prototyping - WayKen

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