Prototyping is one of the most important stages of the design process, it allows essential features of the product design to be assessed before the final product is manufactured. This can include evaluating styling, mechanics, electronics, materials, colours amongst other things.
This is important not only for the design development of the product, but also for potential buyers of your product. 3D CAD design and high quality computer renders are an essential tool for visualising designs and explaining how they work, however there is no better way to present your design than in the form of a real-life physical product. This allows people to get hands on with your product and explore its form its function.
A thorough prototyping process will often result in a better end product as each prototype can highlight potential refinements and improvements that can be applied to the design to make the product better. For this reason, companies will often create multiple prototypes sometimes hundreds of them before committing to the manufacture of a product.
Types of prototype
There are a wide range of prototyping methods available during the product development process, and Duku can advise you as to the best method for you depending on the required outcome.
Proof of concept prototype
A proof of concept prototype is an initial test prototype that is often constructed using off the shelf parts to prove that certain features and mechanisms work correctly. Whilst the overall geometry of the prototype will be based on the potential design, this type of prototype does not focus on aesthetic detail, nor would it necessarily be suitable for presenting to potential buyers, but instead provides invaluable information about the design of the product that can be used to inform the design moving forwards.
A development prototype can take many forms, from cost effective visual models to test the styling of a product, to complex prototypes to test mechanics and functionality. This type of prototype acts as a way of evaluating and refining your product design before committing to final presentation prototypes. These prototypes are usually produced using accurate 3D data generated during a CAD design phase. This date can then be accurately reproduced in a cost effective manner using rapid prototyping techniques such as SLS, SLA, 3D printing, Vacuum Casting and CNC machining.
A presentation prototype is one of the most exciting stages of the product development process, usually commissioned when the design is finalised and ready to show off to potential buyers. This type of prototype will be of the highest quality possible without investing in more expensive mass production tooling. It will accurately reflect the final design, functionality and aesthetics of your product. Often at this stage multiple prototypes can be produced using cost effective prototyping methods such as vacuum casting, should you wish to demonstrate your product in multiple colours or configurations, or to multiple buyers.
The correct product development approach?
Every project requires a unique approach to product development, selecting the best approach dependent on your requirements. Duku can assist at every stage of the prototyping process and advise you as to which prototyping methods are best suited to your product development route. Our experienced design team will ensure that the manufacturing viability of your product is considered from the outset. At the beginning of your project we consider innovative ways in which your design can be improved, from a usability, patentability and aesthetics point of view. This approach means that many potential issues have been considered and addresses before initial prototypes are made, resulting in a cost effective route to market.