A product prototype can work wonders for your business if you’ve taken the proper steps. Think of your prototype as the salesman for your company. It needs to be able to speak volumes for what you can achieve, and it’s pivotal to the design process. Concepts and ideas simply aren’t enough—you’ll find that when you set the process in motion for creating a prototype, it may end up looking vastly different than what you’d imagined.
A prototype allows you to evaluate your core product, identify potential issues, determine production costs, sell the product, secure investments, and file for patents. However, if this is your first product, you might be overwhelmed by what step to take next. Fortunately, planning a prototype can be broken down into four simple steps. Here’s what you should do:
Make a Sketch
One of the first things you’ll need to do is commit your ideas to paper. Sketching allows you to work out the design kinks and create a visual map of what your product will look like and where its parts will go. This is an important part of the brainstorming process. Beginning your concept journey on physical paper makes it easier to sift through the multitude of ideas running through your mind.
As you draw, you’ll start to see how different ideas compete with one another, and how working it out by hand allows you to filter out the noise. This sketchbook documentation can also prove useful when you’re filing for a patent later on. In fact, hand drawn sketches actually carry more weight in court than digitally rendered concepts when it comes to intellectual property cases.
Create a Virtual Prototype
With your sketches in tow, it’s time to use design software to create a more honed and toned version of your product. AutoCAD is one of the more popular options for product design, but there are plenty of other options if you’d like to try something else. If you don’t have experience, trial different types of software to see what works best for you.
Be sure to create both 2D and 3D renderings of your product. Some live rendering tools, like Quadro, will even take your 3D images to the next level, allowing you to get as close to the physical product as possible. These images will also be helpful is your crowdfunding, as they translate very well into campaigns and demonstrate the potential for your product. And lastly, you may even want to look into 3D printing for a powerful and immersive effect.
Building Your Prototype
Now that you’ve filtered out your ideas by hand and committed it to a digital drawing, it’s time to work on your physical creation. Use a datasheet finder to locate your electronic components and compare brands against prices. Depending on your budget, you might want to stick to cost-conscious options to start. Materials that are less expensive will save you money as you work on design flaws before developing a final product.
If you have the technical skills, you’ll spearhead the creation yourself, tinkering as you go along. However, if you’ve got the right idea and understand the technology, you can also hire a prototype designer to spearhead this area of work for you. You might be able to find a local engineer at low costs by advertising at colleges and technical institutions. What’s important is that you understand your options, and that lack of technical skill shouldn’t be a make or break when it comes to bringing your idea to life.
Work With a Prototype Manufacturer
So, you’ve designed your first prototype by hand. Now it’s time to start talking to a manufacturer about replicating your work, as well as discussing cost projections. The good thing about choosing a manufacturer that works in the niche prototype field is that they understand you aren’t going to go ahead and order hundreds of the product right away. Your initial goal is to understand the capabilities of a potentially long-term partnership, and to work out the kinks of your product straight from the production line.
These companies also tend to understand the need for a quicker turnaround, and because they aren’t pushing a huge bulk order, they can offer this to you. This is especially important for startups who need their prototype refined before they can take their business to the next level and approach investors or participate in trade shows and conferences.
AUTHOR ALBERT COOPER
Albert Cooper is a known content writer from California, USA. He writes content in different niches such as social media marketing, finance, business, etc. He is a daytime blogger and night time reader currently working as a chief content advisor for some business and finance groups. He enjoys pie, as should all right-thinking people.