A prototype is a tool to help express your idea and bring your invention to life. It can be simple, at first, but its exact form depends on the idea you have. Handmade prototypes are often useful when beginning, although there are many other options available today. Prototype manufacturing has become more advanced, allowing sophisticated designs to be built quickly to test new products before production begins.
Benefits of Creating a Prototype
When creating a prototype, it helps to know the exact purpose a finished product will serve. An early version of your product helps determine what improvements need to be made and how to move forward with production. The greatest benefits include that you get to:
- Test how it works: Does the prototype function as well as your idea, or does it have certain flaws? If so, you can continue refining the invention until it meets your expectations.
- Compare materials: Perhaps one material performs better over another. Using different materials at this stage lets you figure out which one suits your product best.
- Show it off: Having a prototype in hand gives a manufacturer, licensing company, attorney, or another professional involved in getting your product to market a better sense of what it does, how it works, and how users will benefit from it.
How to Create a Prototype
As vivid as your imagination may be, getting from point A to point B is a process. When creating your prototype, here are some key steps and considerations:
- Start with a concept and design: A simple drawing can get you started, and then you’ll need a three-dimensional representation. Depending on your invention, you can use cardboard, paper, glue, milk containers, socks, etc. to build an inexpensive representation, which gives a general idea of what the finished product will do. The next step is to create a “pre-production” prototype. If you have a 3D printer, it can help, but you may want to consider working with a manufacturer or production company.
- Partner with a manufacturer: Your idea may not be perfect at first, but an experienced manufacturer can collaborate in perfecting your design. A handyman can assist in the process if you’re on a tight budget, but having an engineer is an advantage because several versions of your prototype may be required before all flaws are corrected. Once you have a prototype of the actual product, you need to find a manufacturer that can produce it at a profitable cost.
- Rapid prototyping: Technologies such as 3D printing, CNC milling, and additive layer manufacturing allow for increased complexity and accuracy. Functional prototypes can be developed in little time using CAD data. A combination of techniques reduces the prototype manufacturing process to a few hours once a concept has been fully developed.
To learn more about the latest prototype manufacturing methods available, and to share your vision, contact Laszeray Technology, LLC at 440-582-8430.