Basic Physical Model/Prototype

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.

What is a Basic Physical Model?

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. 

Sometimes we will build sections of a concept that are high risk only just to minimise the cost further and best manage the technical risk of developing something that hasn’t been done before. D2M’s onsite workshops are critical to enabling this process.
Product Design Process
basic physical model

What might happen during this stage?

  1. Quick sketching of the intended model/prototype
  2. Sourcing and purchase of potential donor products and off the shelf parts.
  3. Disassembly of the donor products
  4. Prototype build
  5. Initial testing of the core functionality in a controlled environment.
  6. Review and feedback before continuing development.

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.

What value does this stage add to my project?

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.

basic physical model
Basic Physical Model Textile Prototype

How much and how long?

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.


Why use D2M to do this stage?

Three simple reasons:

  • Onsite fully equipped workshops make us one of the only companies in the UK who can build prototypes inhouse.
  • Creative, pragmatic and diverse team with a full range of materials to hand.
  • Textiles and hard goods skill sets for modelling all types of consumer products.

Contact us today to discuss your project and to learn more about how we can help develop your project: Contact us.

If you would like to find out more about project viability and managing your risk click here. 

Prove It - Sink Tidy Product

Basic Physical Model Stage Examples

New to Product Innovation?

Explore our product development resources and learn where to begin developing your new product idea.

Start your Journey

Discover how we can help you to develop your new product, from creating a prototype to sourcing a manufacturer.

Need A Design Partner?

We can help manage risk and grow your business through innovation and product development.

You might also be interested in...

Where to start with product development

The essential guide that you must read before starting to develop your new product idea.

How to design for better profit margin

All you need to know about how to design products with better profit margins, helping your business to grow.

How to protect a new product idea

Patents, registered designs or trademarks. We cover it all in this indepth article on protecting your intellectual property.

Back to Project Viability Services