By Mark Little
Maybe to a lot of people this seems a strange question, you have an idea and you know what you want, why prototype, why not go straight to the final design?
Test, Refine, Repeat
3D CAD design is a wonderful thing, and offers the ability to model realistic images and create any shape you like, you can even simulate simple motion paths and check for interference's. However in almost every single initial prototype we have ever made there has very quickly been something we spotted that needs rethinking. We even encourage to stay away from the computer on the very first prototype – toilet roll, lego and plasticine can all be used to mock up quick prototypes to quickly test out an idea – usually more questions are thrown up than answers, but that is the design process and if this pattern is repeated quickly in a very short period of time your initial idea could have developed into something even better
Usability & Surprises
One of the biggest challenges with design is taking yourself and preconceptions out of the equation, it's almost impossible to do or there will be areas that you always miss. By prototyping early and observing how people use it you can quickly learn how elements that seemed obvious to you can be missed or areas like handle grips or latches are used in ways you didn’t expect.
Time to Market
Believe it or not you will most likely get to market faster with a higher turnover of prototypes. From the many projects we have taken to market the most common problem is moving goal-posts, a rapid succession of prototypes which maybe highlights part of the initial brief need to be re-written in the long run can really save huge amounts of time and money.
Sales Stress Test
You think your idea is great, and it solves a problem but will it sell? Just like the other headers in this article we strongly recommended running prototypes passed something actively involved in market you are thinking of entering. They will ask questions you had not thought about, how will the item be shipped, how much will it cost, how does it stack up against the competition or similar solutions out there, where can you sell the product, etc.
Something out of Nothing
Hopefully in this short blog post we have given a balanced view of why you would prototype your idea, the final comment to note is momentum and excitement a prototype can bring you. When you hold or use something that was just an idea days ago and now you using it and it's physically there it is an incredible satisfying feeling and makes the idea “real”.
Tax R&D Credits
The UK government offer a strong incentive to encourage design and development and a sizable tax relief can be applied for. This is done after the year end accounts and can free up resources at a critical time in a new product launch.
LUMA-iD can work with your idea or design brief to get prototypes designed and 3D printed in a fast and efficient manner, please phone or email us to get in touch.