One of the most rewarding things you can do in the process of developing a new product is creating a prototype.
A prototype will bring your dream to life in a way that your one-dimensional concept sketch just simply cannot do.
But the benefits of a prototype go way higher than the visual satisfaction of an actual sample of your product. They can promote a new product development process in many ways.
So why is prototyping so important?
- Prototypes enable you to test and refine how well your product design functions.
In developing a prototype, you will be able to see how your product will actually function. It is easy to miss possible design flaws whilst in the concept sketching phase. But these often are revealed as the product takes a three-dimensional form. The prototyping process will allow you to make adjustments to your product to ensure it functions as intended.
- Prototyping encourages evaluation of performance on the materials used.
The ideation phase of NPD typically involves consideration and analysis of materials suitable for construction. Initial specifications may include using a particular material to keep to a low budget. However, after developing a prototype, you may decide that the alternative more costly material will improve performance to an extent to justify the extra expense.
- Prototypes to attract investors.
When approaching potential investors, a prototype of your design will ensure you are taken more seriously. A prototype will always distinguish an idea from sketch or computer-generated image version. An inventor armed with a prototype will be viewed as a serious innovator with a purpose well thought through and a feasible project idea to take to market.
- Prototypes benefiting all areas of your organization.
The engineering or product development team is only the first segment of an organization when thinking in terms of NPD. Obviously, a prototype is beneficial in this department. However, it is important that other relevant areas within your company such as the sales team and marketing department have a full understanding of the product, so they are better prepared to develop campaigns and sales pitches that accurately portray the product. A prototype will of greater value for this than drawings or sketches may have been.
- Prototyping to determine the most advantageous manufacturing methods.
In the concept design phase of new product design, a particular manufacturing process was likely envisaged to create the product. Producing a professional prototype may well open up other fabrication methods that you didn’t know of before and will be more beneficial than the initial idea.