With the advances in prototyping technology – including Rapid Prototyping that makes use of 3D printing equipment – many start-up businesses and entrepreneurs are utilizing prototyping services to help get their product ideas off the drafting board and into manufacturing. And although prototyping services have become very adept at bringing products to life – quickly and less expensively than in the past – there are still a few product concept concerns that need to be understood and addressed before bringing a concept to a prototyping company for early-stage prototyping.
The Top 5 Things to Know Before Developing a Prototype:
1. Specifications are the starting point. To save time and money, make sure that you have all your product specifications as detailed as possible. In the computer-assisted drawing (CAD) age, most inventors and entrepreneurs come to prototyping companies with computer-generated drawings or 3D models that show the product from all angles (with measurements). These specifications might also include what type of material in which your product will be crafted during final manufacturing.
2. Prepare for revisions. Prototyping is typically the development of the first “working” model of your product or invention. There may be numerous prototypes created as you refine product features, function, and fitting (of various pieces that make up the whole prototype).
3. Think like an engineer and document everything. Given that the prototyping process will likely involve a number of revisions and corrections to the model before a final perfected version is complete, it is well worth the time and effort to document (in great detail) how the product prototype changed from version to version. Many who are watching their product concept move through the revisioning process in prototyping keep track of the prototype development by assigning a naming strategy that corresponds to their documentation (such as: Beta 1.0, Beta 1.5, etc.). One other additional benefit to keeping copious notes is in the fact that it also allows you to develop easy-to-understand assembly instructions for manufacturing.
4. Expect an education. You may not have to know anything about manufacturing in plastics or engineering, especially if you choose a company that specializes in not only prototyping but in helping inventors, entrepreneurs, and businesses with designing and building new products. A full-service design and engineering firm – such as PRG Prototyping in Kansas City – can handle all aspects of your product development and help educate you in some of the particulars as well. The typical product the goes from prototype to mass production requires a bit of an education in manufacturing methods, materials, quantity, and cost. A full-service prototyping company can walk you through the stages. The same should also be true for patent protection and intellectual property concerns.
5. Understand that communication is crucial. Few start-ups or entrepreneurs get to the prototyping phase of product development without taking on a few partners or investors along the way. Considering that the prototyping process can be extremely detailed, you will probably want to keep all the stakeholders in the project well-informed.
The Top 5 Things to Know Before Developing a Prototype article is just one of many resources designed to help inventors, entrepreneurs, and businesses prepare to launch new products into the marketplace. PRG Prototyping specializes in designing and building new product prototypes – with a focus on concept design engineering, design for manufacturability, prototype development, production, and marketing presentations. PRG can also provide information on patent protection and intellectual property services.