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How to Create a Product Prototype

Jumping into the wonderful world of product prototyping, let’s explore how to make a prototype of an idea and how to build a prototype for new product.

Categorys:Product Development Prototyping

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Posted on 2nd July, 2019 | By Hazel, WayKen Marketing Manager

An important early step in the product development process is to create a prototype -- simply by a three-dimensional version of your vision. To create prototype is also one of the most interesting and valuable steps you will take. That's because prototyping gives you a chance to really unleash your creativity, using the skills that inspired your invention in the first place. Getting a prototype made for your product is a necessary step between design and production.

A Product Prototype Can Provide Advantages as below:

1)    It enables you to test and improve the functionality of your design.

Of course, 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 another important reason to develop prototypes 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 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, say, plastic performs better with less costs in your particular application. The prototype phase will help you determine the best material.

3)    It will help you and your team to demonstrate your product more effectively, including your attorney, packaging or marketing experts, engineers and potential business partners.

4)    It encourages people to take you more seriously. When you meet any professional with a prototype in your hand -- from your own lawyer to a potential licensing company -- 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.

Most of prototypes can be made from household materials, but there are plenty of prototype makers, such as machine shops, 3D printing companies and other rapid manufacturing factories, that serve you custom prototypes and can do fast prototyping in a short time. As follow, this article will talk about how to make a prototype of an idea and how to build a prototype.

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Three Steps to Create a Product Prototype

Step One: Create an idea of product design and draw a sketch of it

After someone has a hot idea for a new product, the next thing he or she needs to do is determine all the details. The more comprehensive this design stage is, the better the future development is.

The details may include:

  • The product's attributes and characteristics, material and appearance;
  • The unique features of the new product on the market;
  • Product’s functions or purpose;
  • Product’s machining methods;
  • Product’s lifespan;
  • Manufacturing costs;
  • Issues related to government regulation, patent infringements and potential hang-ups.

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Step Two:  Make the computer-aided design (CAD) of the product prototype

The computer design is much more detailed than your initial sketch. This is the design you will give to the prototype maker as the source used in manufacturing programing in machines, not matter that the machining method is. AutoCAD is a standard digital design tool used by engineers and other professionals, which enables them to draw 2D and 3D renderings simultaneously. (PS. If you obtain CAD by yourself, be sure to check the credentials of your designer as well as their cost per hour.)

Step Three:  Build a Physical Product Prototype

Your proved concept shows that your product works. Your 3D model shows what it might look like. Then next step is to combine the learning from the proof of concept and 3D model to create a physical prototype. You may need to build several prototypes before getting an all-good one done. Typically, early working prototypes are built of less expensive materials than later versions to save money while continually fixing design flaws. As you improve your design, you will eventually make a prototype that can be replicated to your actual product as it will be sold to consumers.

An Example of Prototype Production Proposal

In prototyping industry, the prototype makers’ machining capacities and advantages are varied from one to another. Wayken, who is dedicated in prototype industry, provides prototyping service from CNC machining, Vacuum Casting and 3D printing to Rapid Injection Molding for low volume production. Below is an example of their machining proposal for the automotive reflector at the prototyping stage.

Production Phases-3

The machining proposal for the automotive lighting parts prototype is usually divided into three phases for different using purposes: Phase One for aesthetic appearance/assembly; Phase Two for function tests; Phase Three for function tests/end users. As the prototypes are getting improved by phase and phase, a matured product will come out in the end.

Now, if you ask how to develop a product, I would say, it starts from an idea, is visualized by design and created and improved by prototypes. Making a prototype of you design is a great way to start bringing your product to life. Remember that, there are no rules! Give yourself a permission to experiment. Look around the house and pick materials that you can use to test to see if your idea works.

Wayken as an prototype manufacturing expert is able to provide one-stop prototyping services for companies and individuals who need prototype. Sending your CAD data directly to hazel@waykenrm.com, you will quickly receive wanted quotes together with DFM tips after an over-all evaluation by Wayken engineering team. Even an idea or a semi-finished designed could ask for supports from us regarding to the machining solutions.

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