THE PROTOTYPING PROCESS
Prototyping is a way of thinking and verifying your idea or concept. We recommend the following method to
save you time and to keep you focused.
HERE ARE SOME BASIC STEPS:
Research your idea: A simple Internet search on Google can give you an idea of what’s already in
the market and help you build your design.
Define the features: What does this product accomplish? What problem is it solving? What are
the main features?
Start to make drawings: Whether it’s on a piece of paper or in a professional CAD software
program, start to draw out the form. In CAD, the measurements will be provided in the model,
but in hand drawn sketches you will need to identify key units of measure. Make sure to confirm
the design with your partners or investors before proceeding to the next step.
Create a Prototype: Create a physical representation of your concept with accurate
Get feedback: We suggest from a minimum of 10 people. You will document the feedback and
modify the design accordingly. This is an essential element of the prototyping process.
Rinse and Repeat: (Just kidding about the rinse) But seriously, go through the same process
mentioned above until you are satisfied with the design and are ready to get manufacturing
In summary, the rapid prototyping process outlined above offers a quick and relatively inexpensive way to
test your idea before spending $10,000 or more on manufacturing tooling. It can help you mitigate manu-
facturing mistakes, discover important customer feedback, produce multiple design iterations quickly, and
generate ideas for your marketing!
GETTING A PHYSICAL PROTOTYPE MADE
In the past, we had fewer ways to make prototypes. For example, model making was a traditional
resource as shown in Figure 15-1. This option is still available today and materials include, styrene,
clay, metal, MDF, acetate, foam board, acrylic, wood, tooling board, plaster, silicone, latex, laminate
and fabric. The disadvantages include long lead times, little flexibility for mid project edits, no standard
consistency between multiple copies, and a lot of manual labor and cost.
These hand-crafted works of art look appealing, but they rely on the individual skill of each model
maker, which can vary greatly, and is difficult to reproduce identical versions. 3D printing takes those
variables out of the equation by replicating the model the same way every time (assuming the printers
and settings are equivalent). Enterprise level 3D printers even let you prototype in different high-quality
FIGURE 151: A model of a house made by a model maker using various materials
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