10 Reasons to Rapid Prototype
5 mins | 1,050 words
By: Joanne Garder
Knowing where to begin when you have a product idea can feel daunting. Entrepreneurs often find themselves contemplating whether their idea makes sense in a competitive landscape and whether they should invest their time and resources to set their vision in motion.
Every finished product on the market went through a series of tests and iterations before it was ready to manufacture. Developing a product concept is an exciting and rewarding process. There are so many variables to consider, but trusting industry professionals and results-driven processes will help you to define the most effective approach. Rapid prototyping should be the first step in an entrepreneur’s road to launching a product idea.
What is a prototype?
A prototype is an early version of a product built to help evaluate its design and functionality.
What is rapid prototyping?
Rapid Prototyping is the process of moving from sketch to 3D design to physical prototype. These techniques enable you to iterate, test, and refine your product idea quickly. They include CAD design, and both additive and advanced manufacturing tools.
10 Reasons Why You Should Consider Rapid Prototyping
1.–Validate your idea and prove that it works
Assuming that your product will work as intended without building it first can be problematic. By producing a prototype, you will gain a better understanding of the fit, form, and functionality of your design. By working with industry professionals, you can move forward with confidence.
2. Ensure your solution is viable and makes sense to build
Although an idea may be great in theory, there are many factors to consider when determining whether a product makes sense to build. Collaborating with industry professionals (such as engineers or industrial designers) will make a considerable impact on the success of your product. They will work with you to determine the technical feasibility and manufacturability of your design. There are factors you may not have considered that trusted professionals will evaluate with you.
3. Gain insights from market research and better understand the competitive landscape
Having an in-depth understanding of the current competitive market is critical to determining the positioning of your concept. Industry professionals will help to define the unique selling proposition of your product and ensure there is substantial differentiation that would warrant building your concept. By narrowing your products’ category, relative to the competitive landscape, your idea will be strengthened. This will help entrepreneurs navigate whether their idea is unique, innovative and will stand the test of time amongst a potentially competitive market.
4. Work with experts that will collaborate with you to create the most optimal solution
Sometimes our first idea may not be the strongest solution to the problem at hand. Though your idea may solve the challenge that you’ve identified, there may be a more efficient design that you hadn’t considered. There may be adaptations or recommendations to the design of your product that only the seasoned eye of industry professionals will catch. Collaborating and brainstorming at the early ideation stage of your product development journey is critical.
5. Iterate upon your design until your idea is polished
The process of rapid prototyping may not be linear. In order to ensure your design is polished, it is important to test and then iterate based on the feedback gained. Your first design will likely change considerably once built, tested, and refined. Through rapid prototyping, you’re able to consider efficiencies and consolidate any production steps that could help reduce future costs.
6. Avoid costly design flaws
Solving design flaws or challenges within the early stage of development will mitigate problems that can be potentially costly once manufactured. Prototyping allows for experimentation. Together, we can try different approaches that will result in the strongest design possible. Through rapid prototyping, most of the hidden shortcomings are exposed & functional gaps are found.
7. Build a sample of your idea faster
Time is of the essence, particularly for early-stage entrepreneurs. By rapid prototyping, you can have a model of your concept in hand within a few weeks. By working within a focused environment that allows for smaller production runs, entrepreneurs can build, iterate, and refine their approach within a shorter timeframe. Additive manufacturing, such as 3D printing, allows entrepreneurs to print a form at rapid speed. The 3D printers at the Lab can print a form with a 4″ diameter within 4 hours. This prepares you to launch faster.
8. Simulate the final product for user testing
Gaining insight from hands-on experience with users will allow you to determine whether your product effectively meets the expectations of your users. Building a model of your idea that closely simulates the intended functionality of the final design will allow you to put your product in the hands of your users and learn from their valuable and insightful feedback.
9. Fine-tune the aesthetics of your product to ensure marketability
Once you’ve established the functionality of your design, entrepreneurs can experiment with the overall aesthetic of their product. Texture, colour, shapes, etc. can all be adjusted to suit the palette of your audience. Rapid prototyping allows the freedom to explore your options.
10. Present your ideas professionally and become investor-ready
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a prototype in hand is priceless. By building a model of your idea, you have the ability to show investors that you’ve thoroughly explored your idea and you’re prepared to launch into the next stage of your journey. Investors and stakeholders can see how your idea performs in reality, rather than using diagrams and illustrations to tell your story. Many entrepreneurs struggle with communicating their vision with words; a prototype can illustrate the functionality and form of your design in physical form.
Discover how rapid prototyping will accelerate and solidify your product concept. Connect with our team of experts – let’s discuss your vision and how we can help today.
About the author
Joanne Gardner is the Director of Advanced Manufacturing and Digital Media Lab, GovTech Prototyping. She is an accomplished, versatile, and driven leader with a proven track record and excellent knowledge of government, charitable and corporate business practices. With a passion for building sustainable communities and social justice, Joanne has demonstrated experience in developing creative and effective solutions to diverse and complex business problems, while leading innovative strategic programs with a focus on both social and financial return on investment.