Prototype Development Models: What, Why, How and When

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Prototype development models are a critical part of the product development process. They play an essential role in helping entrepreneurs and business founders test their ideas and determine whether they’re viable or not. In this article, we’ll explore the world of prototype development models, their purpose, and how they can help entrepreneurs save both time and money.

What are Prototype Development Models?

Prototype development models are essentially mock-ups or basic physical models of a concept or idea. These models allow entrepreneurs and product developers to test key functionality and features of a product quickly. They’re made as cheaply as possible, often using existing products or parts to check whether the idea works as expected.

The models have many different names, such as functional prototypes, prototypes, lash-up models, prototype development models or even basic physical models. However, the core principle is always the same – they’re designed to test key functionality as quickly and cheaply as possible.

Why are Prototype Development Models Important?

The primary reason to use prototype development models is to save both time and money. By testing the core risky bits of your prototype first, you can determine whether your product is viable or not before investing in later-stage prototypes that are more expensive and take longer to build. Without using prototype development models, you risk investing a lot of money and time in a full “looks-like-works-like” prototype, only to find that the basics don’t function correctly and need to be further developed and changed. By that point, you’ve wasted months and thousands of pounds.

The key is to test the core functionality of your prototype as cheaply and quickly as possible. It doesn’t need to look like the final product, be made of the final materials or function entirely like the final product. All it needs to do is test the key criteria. For example, if you have a new unique selling proposition (USP), you’ve got something that’s innovative and different, and that’s the core thing to focus on in the prototype to test and prove.

The key is to start with a basic physical model and work your way up to a looks-like-works-like prototype as you refine your product and determine its viability.

Examples of Prototype Development Models

Let’s take a closer look at some examples of prototype development models to understand how they work and how they can benefit entrepreneurs.

One example of a successful prototype development model is the proving oven. This prototype was designed to maintain a temperature of around 30 degrees to better prove bread, pastries, or anything with yeast in it. The prototype was made from cheap materials and didn’t look like the final product, but it allowed for testing of the core functionality of the product. Through testing, the inventor discovered that the heat pad didn’t have enough power in colder temperatures, which allowed for changes to be made to the final product.

Another successful prototype development model is the golf trolley design. The inventor used an existing golf bag and motor wheel set to create a rough prototype, which was then tested to ensure it met the key criteria of going uphill, lasting for a certain amount of time, and not tipping over on a side slope. Through testing and refining, we were able to create a final product that met all of the necessary requirements.

In conclusion, prototyping is a critical part of the development process for entrepreneurs and businesses looking to create a new product. It allows for testing of key functionality, design, and aesthetics, and can save significant amounts of time and money in the long run. By using low-cost materials and simple techniques, entrepreneurs and businesses can quickly and efficiently create prototypes that allow for testing and refining of the product before investing in the final product.

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