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4 Reasons You Need to Create a Prototype

by Daniel Pauly

Prototyping is an essential part of any product development process. Whether you’re working on tool design or developing the next hot kitchen gadget, at some point you’ll need to put your ideas to the test and create an actual product. Sketches and digital mock-up will get you part of the way there, but prototypes will take them to the next level. Here are a few reasons why you should jump on prototype development soon.

Testing Materials

Although you may have done your research on design measurements, material types and various components, you’ll eventually need to try them all together in real life. This will give you an opportunity to make adjustments to different parts to ensure they work functionally and efficiently. In addition, it will help you test integrity of different materials under a variety of conditions. It might even help you minimize cost by giving you a chance to test out less expensive parts which might still meet performance standards.

Fine-Tuning Your Design

When you have a physical representation of your design, you’ll be able to make more precise adjustments than you could on paper or in a simulation. A prototype can bring to the surface any design weaknesses or challenges that will need to be overcome. Then, you can develop future prototypes based on lessons learned from previous ones. It’s normal to go through a few different prototypes before final production, so try to look at any setbacks as an opportunity for growth as you perfect your product. Be sure to solicit professional feedback as you continue with the design process, since different perspectives may be able to pick out other potential flaws than you might see yourself.

Sharing Your Vision

Having a physical product will help get others on board with your vision, including possible business partners, your marketing department and anyone else on your team. When you have a prototype that people can physically interact with, people will take you more seriously. It will help differentiate you from all the “wantrepreneurs” who are all talk and no action.

The road from design to prototype to product can be a long one, but each step is crucial. The early versions of a product and the analysis of each version can have huge implications for the final outcome. By investing sufficient time, attention and energy into the prototype development process, you can improve your chances of creating a well-designed, marketable product in the end.