Initial prototyping to prove or potentially disprove core functional elements of the design before further detailed design and prototyping is conducted.
This level of basic prototyping is about testing the core functionality of the product idea. A basic physical model rapidly and cost effectively develops a 3D, tangible model of the concept, often for the first time, which allows the concept to be assessed and key areas for improvement highlighted.
A basic physical model is often the quickest and cheapest way to test out your new product idea in reality. Concepts often look great on paper but the reality of a 3D object that has to perform effectively is sometimes very different.
Often Basic Physical models/prototype will be made from donor products. I.e. we’ve built unique pushchair concepts by deconstructing existing pushchairs and then rebuilding them with some novel components to prove a new design. Recently we turned a wooden step ladder into a new chair concept to confirm the basic angles, comfort and ease of getting in and out of the chair. This took only a few hours but quickly showed some issues that needed to be resolved.
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.
The example of the blue box in the image is useful as it shows that speed and cost effectiveness are the key drivers in this stage. Anything that can be cheaply bought and modified is used rather than bespoke parts. this prototype uses a bench top power supply rather than batteries, and off the shelf thermometer and cable ties to hold parts of it together. the main box doesn’t look like the final item at all but is enough currently to prove the concept and is much cheaper than a custom housing.
The value is this stage is all about reducing risk. the worst outcome from a prototyping stage is that you’ve spent thousands of pounds, it’s taken weeks to build and something fundamental doesn’t work. This stage attempts to avoid this problem by proving the core functions.
The box on the right demonstrates several key principles of this type of model. It uses predominantly off the shelf fittings such as the catch to keep the door closed. This isn’t ideal but is enough to show the principle. It is taped together around the door as this is quick and doesn’t need expensive custom parts. The box itself is made from sheet foam which is inexpensive and quick to work with. It damaged easily and would never be the final material or surface finish aesthetically, but it proves the basics of the design.
Generally this stage should take two to four weeks to be done thoroughly. Cost depends on complexity but varies from around £1200 to £8000. Generally a small product with only a few components and no electronics would be at the lower end and a complex product with inbuilt electronics and mechanics and over 50 components would be at the top end.
Three simple reasons:
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If you would like to find out more about project viability and managing your risk click here.