Monday 21 July, 2014

Product Development Tips – Making Your Prototype

One of the essential steps in creating your product is to create a three-dimensional version of what you have in your head. This is your prototype and you can touch it and interact with it to see how it will actually work. This is where you really get your product off the ground.

Three-Dimensional Modeling

Most prototypes start with a 3D model. There are many programs like AutoCAD that you can use to do this. You need to get all of the details planned and codified before production of the actual prototype begins. You can also use your 3D model to assess interest from companies and investors.

Getting Your Prototype Built

The traditional method for constructing your actual prototype is to find a manufacturer to do it for you. You can find manufacturers through Google search but a better way is to use industry-specific trade magazines or attend trade shows. These resources put all of the manufacturers with skill and experience in your industry in one place.

Build It Yourself

Today, many companies decide to build their own prototype. This is easy to do if you have the manufacturing facilities, skills and resources. Of course, it’s cheaper to have it made in-house, just as long as there aren’t any quality issues or it doesn’t put a great deal of strain on your resources.

An alternative option available today is to use a 3D printer. This is a printer that layers material to create actual three-dimensional objects. Right now, few companies own their own 3D printers or know how to use one. However, you can hire a 3D printing firm to produce your prototype for you. Again, start by looking within your industry before you Google.

The University Option

Another alternative cost-effective method is to have your prototype made at a school or university. Universities often create prototypes for very low cost. The downside is that it may have limitations in terms of resources and experience. But this is an excellent cost-effective alternative that’s often overlooked by companies.

Shopping Around

Whether you choose to go with a manufacturer or hire a 3D printing firm or school, don’t go with the first you contact. Even if the price is right, it’s a good idea to shop around and get a few proposals. In addition to price, there may be differences in terms of timeline and other details.

Using Your Prototype to Perfect Your Product

Once you get your prototype made, play around with it. Offer it to your customers or members of your target market. Seek feedback from everyone possible on how it can be improved. Once you have some ideas for improvements, head back to the drawing board to rinse and repeat.

Creating a prototype is actually one of the most fun and rewarding parts of the product development process. You get to see the idea you have on paper brought to life. Through this important step, you can learn a great deal about the feasibility and cost of your product idea.

Bob Steele

Bob Steele is an entrepreneur, software developer, marketer, and author living in the Denver metropolitan area. He’s an avid outdoorsman who loves skiing, hiking, fishing, boating, and just plain having fun. His interests include games, space, technology, physics, cooking (well eating actually), economics, business, internationalism, and team sports. With over thirty years of professional consulting experience, Bob has been exposed to many diverse business models and has gained a sensible approach to life. Bob’s company, WaveCentric is focused on commerce, marketing, and entertainment related products.

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