Prototype Development Guide - FAQs
Everything you need to know about prototyping in one place
If you are new to prototype development or not sure what prototyping really is and how it fits in the design process then this FAQ guide is for you. We've compiled a list of the most common questions we get asked about prototype development. If you have a question that is not included in this prototyping guide, contact us or fill out our Ask An Engineer form below.
What is rapid prototyping?
Rapid prototyping is the process of making three dimensional physical objects from a digital file, most often by laying down many layers of material in succession. This process is also known as additive manufacturing. See our guide to rapid prototyping for more information on the different types of rapid prototyping and to find out which one would be best for your project needs.
How do you make a product prototype?
There are many ways to make a product prototype, including cobbling together items found in your own home. Homemade prototypes can only take you so far before you will need to call a professional product development firm to finalize your working prototype. Remember your final prototypes needs to both look nice and function properly. This is why prototype development is an important part of the prototyping process.
Professional prototypes are either machined or built using additive manufacturing techniques, such as 3D printing. Once all the individual parts are made, the prototype is assembled and then tested to see if it can withstand normal wear and tear, as well as perform the functions it was made to do.
Can I make my own prototype?
You can absolutely try and make your own prototype, and many people who come to us already have a prototype they have made themselves. However, just because you have a basic prototype, does not mean that you are ready for manufacturing. The outside design is one thing, but the functionality, tolerances, and manufacturability are all things that need to be developed before you can produce a finished product. This is where an experienced product design and development firm is essential for getting your product to market.
How much does it cost to prototype a product?
Prototyping costs can vary greatly from a few hundred to thousands of dollars, depending on what method is used to create your prototype, as well as its complexity, materials selected, and the documentation required. For most projects you will also need several iterations of your prototype ranging from an early alpha stage prototype to a fully functional production prototype. The most basic of prototypes can be made from items found in your own home or local hardware store. However, if you want a prototype that gains attention and investor dollars, then you will need to invest in a professionally produced prototype made using various machining and rapid prototyping techniques.
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