The Prototyping Process - Prototyping Ideas & Inventions
Why do I need a prototype?
A prototype can help to add value to a project as well as credibility.
In some instances, you will need to be able to prove that your concept works and that the theoretical design translates into a working model.
Often a prototype may better demonstrate the product: this is particularly the case if looking to present in situations such as Dragons' Den.
Why is a prototype useful if I am licensing?
Prototypes are not essential but can add value to a project. This is particularly the case if you need to prove that the concept works. In this instance, a basic Proof-of-Concept Prototype would be adequate to demonstrate the basic fundamentals of the idea. Some people may choose a more refined prototype to strengthen their presentation but the associated cost of this needs to be weighed up against other factors. Sometimes, a prototype may help you to negotiate a higher percentage of royalties.
Why is a prototype useful if I am looking to manufacture?
Prototypes are almost essential when looking to manufacture. In some instances the CAD designs from the Design Process are enough to send directly to a manufacturer, but this is predominantly only if the product is very simple and composed of existing parts. More often than not, a prototype will be necessary prior to approaching a manufacturer in order to further refine the design.
We use rapid prototyping in SLS, SLA and FDM for smaller products which allows a real 3D model to be built from the CAD file. Larger models can be fibreglass, vacuum formed or machined.
How can Innovate help?
Innovate have their own on-site workshop to help create prototypes of varying levels. For anything we cannot help with we have company links with which we can outsource some modelling. Prototypes can only be quoted once design work is complete and it takes approximately 10 working days to prepare, following sourcing of materials and components.
Prototyping services that Innovate Design offer include:
- Rapid Prototyping
- CNC Machining
- Vacuum Casting
- Laser Cutting
- Electronics Development
- Fabric Prototypes
- Mechanical Design
There are several different styles and progressions of prototypes that Innovate can help create for your project, dependent on your individual needs:
This type of prototype demonstrates the overall shape and size of the product and does not usually feature any working parts. The materials will not be the materials that would be used if the product were to be mass produced. This type of prototype can either be left as the raw material or painted to represent the finished product.
This type of prototype demonstrates the key functionality of the product and resolves the main technical aspects of the design. It is not intended to look like the final product and will make use of existing 'off-the-shelf' components, where possible. A proof of concept prototype is unlikely to be made from production grade materials.
This type of prototype demonstrates the key functionality of the product and also provides a representation of how the mass-produced product would appear. This type of prototype will largely be built from bespoke parts, however 'off-the-shelf' parts will still be used, where appropriate. It is likely that materials close to the production grade will be used, however, in situations where this would not be economically viable for a one-off prototype, substitutes may be used.
Design for manufacture
If you are definitely planning on manufacturing the product, a presentation prototype is a good starting point. From this, it would be possible to approach manufacturers and discuss any minor changes that may be needed to start mass-production. This is an add-on service at an additional cost, and is not included in the presentation prototype package, simply because not all clients will need this. Some may just need a presentation prototype to take to a meeting with a company, who, if interested, could take on the design for manufacturing themselves.
NB.Following prototyping there may still be additional work required in order to proceed to manufacture. Often the Prototype is enough, or we can provide CAD files where necessary. Manufacturing data and engineering drawings may still be needed and we can assist with this, where relevant.
You might also find the following of interest:Click here to go to our dedicated prototyping website: Innovate Prototypes Click here to learn about how to protect your idea
© Innovate Design 2011 | Idea Development - the prototype process, idea engineering