Prototyping is quite simply the process of constructing a model of a system. The model assists designers in visualizing and adapting a product before it is manufactured for market. In fact, prototyping is an important process that is required along the path from idea to reality. Inventors provide the idea, engineers define the design and a prototype brings the design to life. At the prototype phase many things can happen. All of which are intended to make the design better and more user-friendly. The prototype is an actual model of a design that can be held, examined and demonstrates the precise size and shape of the inventor’s concept.
There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to the prototype phase. Here is a look at both:
Advantages of Prototyping
1 – Development time is greatly reduced
2 – Development costs are greatly reduced
3 – User involvement is required
4 – Valuable user feedback delivered to developers
5 – System implementation results from user expectations
6 – User satisfaction results are higher
7 – Developers are exposed to possible enhancement ideas for future product development
Disadvantages of Prototyping
1 – Sometimes results in not enough analysis
2 – Users expect end product to perform exactly as the prototype
3 – Developers can become protective of their prototype
4 – Under-developed systems may be released before they have been proven
5 – Incomplete documentation can result
6 – Time saving elements of prototyping can be lost if sophisticated software prototypes are used
The Different Types of Prototypes
There are two very distinct types of prototypes. Each performs a number of important functions in the prototyping process. There are commonly known as functional and appearance prototypes.
The easiest way to describe a functional prototype is to say that it is the 3D version of your invention design. Essentially it is a model of your idea that has covered quite a distance in the creative process. The functional prototype can say a great deal as it represents a lot of effort on your part, the part of the designers, engineers and even machining. All of these sources of input have combined to turn your original concept into a real, hold-in-your-hand, realization of your invention.
The functional prototype is the end result of all of this collaboration. So, in a way, when we produce your functional prototype here at Prototype Monster, you will receive the best-of-the-best model. That’s because it is the refined, refit, redefined, rebuild of your invention. But that’s not all. The functional prototype is also well, functional. This means that it will not only look like your final production product…it will work like it.
How We Make A Functional Prototype
The CAD data files we created a couple of steps before we got to this point provide the foundation of information required for the prototyping process. It allows us to move directly into the machining phase with 3D printing as a guide. We utilize various types of materials, depending on the type of product your invention is. We can create parts by vacuum casting or molding. Then we move over the painting. The painting process gives your prototype the actual visual look of what your design will look like when it actually enters production.
Hmmm. Where the functional prototype is a visual representation and working model of your invention, the appearance prototype is similar. However, there are some differences. Probably the most obvious difference is that an appearance prototype is a functional prototype minus the functional part. Did you get that?
An appearance prototype has all the bells and whistles of what your product is going to look like. It is a model that would be considered a notch or two above what the actual production item is going to look like. In other words, the best possible, best looking, prototype of your product is what the appearance prototype is. It looks, feels and weighs what your end product would. It is the exact same size, shape and will have the correct color(s) and decal(s) as your end product will. It just doesn’t perform what your product is supposed to do.
The appearance prototype is a pretty model of your product.
How We Make An Appearance Prototype
Machining processes are employed to create the model that will take on the complete look of your product. The attention to detail is extreme and a requirement in order to create an exact replica of what your invention idea was. At Prototype Monster we take your CAD data and create a model of your product using 3D printing, casting and molding. Only the mechanical parts that make it work are not ‘hooked up’ or ‘turned on’ so you have a prototype for show, not go.
Why You Would Need Either A Functional or Appearance Prototype
If you are an inventor who is going to spend time pounding on doors and making corporate speaking engagements in an effort to secure funding or distribution, a prototype will help you a lot. Sure, you can render a slick PowerPoint presentation that can really blow the socks off of the corporate departments you will show it to. But nothing pushes a funding or sponsorship presentation over the edge like having a prototype to circulate in the crowd.
You can be the best at describing your invention and how it will revolutionize the world as we know it. But at Prototype Monster we know that the final piece in that puzzle that wins them over every time is an attractive, well-designed and beautifully created prototype.
Plus, when you have a good looking prototype of your invention you can use it to create all of your marketing materials. That can be from advertising to press releases and any other tool you intend to use to get the word out about your new invention that is about to burst out on store shelves.
A professionally designed and built prototype will seal the deal.
At Prototype Monster we can take your idea along that journey to reality. Prototyping is an important step along that route. Prototype Monster is based in South Florida. We are a design and engineering firm that provides service to clients across the United States and Caribbean.