Prototype: Rendering to Mock Up
An essential step when coming up with a new product is prototype production, i.e. creating a three dimensional version of what the product will look like.
Reasons for prototype production
It is seldom certain that a new design will actually do what it is intended to without first testing it and unforeseen problems with new product designs are common. Using a prototype during the design process allows for testing as well as exploring various design alternatives so that you can be sure it works as it should before you send it to production.
Prototypes can also be used to check whether there is enough consumer interest in the product.
Advantages of prototype production
Some of the advantages of including a prototype in the production process are:
- Confirming consumer interest by using a prototype will minimise money wasted on producing products that don’t sell well.
- Prototypes of alternative designs can be produced and tested without too much expense before committing to any one of them.
- Niggles and concerns regarding functionality and design can be worked out cost effectively before mass production takes place.
- The most cost effective means of production can be determined in advance, driving down the cost of manufacturing the product once it goes to mass market.
- Prototypes can even be used as a selling tool prior to production. They bring a design concept to life and show how it will look and feel much more effectively than 2D drawings.
To sum it up, investing the time and money in prototype production early on in the design process can save a lot of time, money and hassle in the long run.
Methods of prototype production
Prototypes can be produced in a number of different ways, depending on the materials used, how quickly the prototype is required and whether it is to be fully functioning or just a visual representation of the final product. Prototype production can include CNC machining, rapid prototyping and electro-mechanical assembly facilities as well as stereo lithography and fused-deposition modelling.
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