Prototypes are an essential stage in developing an idea so that it is ready for presentation to the industry or properly prepared for manufacture. Prototyping can be very expensive and so it may well be prudent to establish commercial interest in your idea before embarking on the prototyping process.
In most cases, product development work needs to be completed before a prototype can be built. This design stage will result in a 3D virtual (CAD) model that can be used to check basic form and function. This virtual model can be rendered to look like a real product and used to assess interest from companies and investors prior to prototyping, in some cases. More information on our product design process can be discovered here: Product Design Process
Using the CAD model, we can build a prototype using a variety of techniques depending on the requirements of the project and your budget.
This type of prototype is often used for plastic casings and small plastic products that are relatively simple. We have a fully equipped workshop for assembling plastic prototypes, spray painting and a 3D printer that can rapidly component parts in a range of materials.
Utilising our experience across a range of complex mechanical prototypes including use of: motors, valves, folding systems, pumps and cutting devices, we can create mechanical prototypes to prove the concept before refining into presentable prototypes that function effectively for testing the product with users before going into production.
We have a fully equipped textile workshop with three industrial sewing machines for different processes and material types. We are exceptionally skilled at producing rucksack and bag prototypes having done various designs over several years for different target markets and purposes.
In combination with our component suppliers with milling and welding capability, we have built various metal prototypes of frameworks for industrial products and also durable working component for small consumer goods.
We have worked in various woods on a range of size products from full-size furniture to smaller decorative items.
This type of prototype conveys the overall shape and size of the product
but does not usually prove the function of the idea. It is not designed to represent the
materials or production methods of a final mass produced product.
A prototype that demonstrates the main functionality of the
idea. This type of prototype will probably make use of ‘off the shelf’ components and is unlikely to look like the final product.
This type of prototype combines the functionality of the product
with the overall appearance. Often using bespoke parts, it is likely that production grade materials will be used.
This type of prototype builds on the work of a presentation
prototype by fully considering mass production manufacturing methods and production.
The parts are likely to be created using production methods and materials.
The first stage in building a textile prototype is concept development. This involves
sketching the initial concept and considering, on a basic level, what fabrics to use (hard or
soft, heavy or light, etc.). This stage can also be used to determine whether anything of value can be added to the initial concept, a process that may result in the creation of textile mock-ups or proof-of-concept prototypes (prototypes that prove that a concept functions as intended).
The next stage involves drawing patterns in order to determine the scale and size of the pattern pieces or fabric components of the product. These pieces are provisional and may
be subject to change later in the process. A second prototype can then be built, the creation of which will take into account further fabric choices and detailing such as stitching type and thread colour, webbing, fasteners, zips, buttons, and hook and loop attachments.
Any problems that are highlighted by the second prototype are solved in the development
of a final or presentation prototype. At this stage, all aspects of the product are finalised,
including pattern, shape, size, materials and colour. Trend websites may be consulted in
order to select up and coming seasonal colours, if appropriate to the product. If custom
prints are required, these are also designed at this stage. Finishing techniques such as piping
and binding may be employed so that the presentation prototype approximates the final
product as closely as possible, and branding or logos may be developed for the same reason.
Once a presentation prototype has been completed a manufacturing specification can be
produced, with which manufacturers will be able to produce samples of the final product. It is good practice to compare a number of different suppliers in order to source cost-effective manufacturing.
D2M has a vast range of previous prototyping experience. Prototypes we have built include:
handheld electronic products; thermoelectric cooling devices; textile based products; baby
equipment; outdoor products and even an underwater video camera with built in propulsion.