A pre-production prototype does not need to look good to impress anyone. They are all about confirming the final design before committing to expensive mould tool. They are not always necessary because often the Mark 2 prototype is enough, but if there are quite a few changes before manufacture, potentially as a result of feedback on the last prototype, then this type of prototype can be very useful.
This type of prototype will largely be built from bespoke parts from the agreed CAD model. However ‘off the shelf’ parts will be used where appropriate and ideally these are the same components that will be bought in bulk for the final product. This type of prototype is not about appearance or even function necessarily but is about confirming any changes before production and ensuring the final designed parts fit together effectively.
Often a value engineering stage is completed once the design is signed off, to attempt to reduce component count and also material usage. This needs to be done without reducing the effectiveness or appeal of the design but can save considerable amount of tooling cost or increase the margin on the product. These changes for economic reasons do sometimes require a final prototype to ensure that the new design of components still fit together as intended and function effectively.
Often it is the case that the design can be improved for faster assembly at this stage as well. This reduces unit cost but does often require a prototype to confirm that the new design is in fact possible and rapid to assemble. Costs of a prototype for this purpose can be minimised as the parts don’t have to be rigid or strong enough to function as intended or to look good. They just need to be robust enough and accurate enough to test the assembly of the parts.
This is a complete list of all potential requirements of this stage. It does depend on your project and your specific requirements and therefore all of these elements might not be necessary in your case.
Production tooling is often very expensive and errors can delay product launch as tools are re-made. As such it is best to ensure that any final design changes and evolutions for production materials and processes are checked with a final prototype.
This stage would typically take three to four weeks. The cost of this stage can vary greatly based on the size of the product. The cost typically could range from £1200 to £10,000.
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