Perhaps one of the most enjoyable stages of the product development process is the creation of the prototype. The prototype is the first three-dimensional representation of the product idea, one that can actually demonstrate what a product can really do. Prototypes don’t have to be elaborate or even truly represent the final design. They have to be able to accurately represent what the final design will do in a way that can be useful for demonstration purposes. The sooner a three-dimensional prototype can be created, the more useful it can be. There are many practical reasons for creating an effective prototype.
- You can refine and test the functionality of your design. Sometimes things look great on paper, or you have an incredibly detailed vision in your head of what the product will do. However, when the time comes to actually make a prototype, flaws and errors are more easily detected. It’s a way to really put the theory to the test.
- You can test the performance of different materials in the construction of the product. In theory, you might imagine that your product has to be made of plastic, but in the prototype phase, you realize that plastic simply won’t work, and a metallic frame would be much more practical. This stage helps determine which materials will work best.
- You can describe your product more effectively. Patent lawyers, engineers, marketing teams, and business partners all need to understand what you have in mind. Until mind reading is invented, a prototype is still the best way to display your vision.
- It demonstrates the seriousness of your design. As they say, ideas are a dime a dozen and easy to come by. A prototype shows that it’s more than just a flimsy notion. You have a practical, physical object to demonstrate, and that shows a much more serious approach than simply describing an imaginary item.