A prototype is an experimental model of a new industrial product. Even in our technological age, a 3-D illustration on a screen is till no match for a tangible object. People can hold the prototype in their hand and get a sense of the real thing. Presented with a high-quality prototype, end-users will start the buzz around the product even before it has been manufactured, and potential backers will be more likely invest in it (see article on Crowdfunding)
From the design perspective, prototypes are produced in-order-to research and improve all aspects of the new product, before investing in large scale manufacturing. Initially, an idea for a new product is conceived using CAD software tools (Computer Aided Design), generating a 3-D model that simulates some of the product’s behavior under normal use conditions and under stress. Based on the results of the simulations, candidate raw materials can be selected and the first prototypes can be produced.
Factors such as weight, durability and usability are considered and the appropriate production technology for the prototypes is selected – CNC, 3D printing, high or low-pressure plastic injection, laser cutting etc. Sometimes, several raw materials are tested to determine which one provides better performance. Raw materials are also a dominant factor in the final pricing of the product. Accordingly, the raw materials selected for the final product are often a compromise between performance and price. For example, producing the arm of a new robot from titanium may yield the highest reliability but not conform to the price constraints which the market dictates. Finally, Prototypes are also used to select finishing grades and colors. Prototypes can be produced again and again, each time testing a different feature or characteristic of the product, until the final design of the product is reached.
Another important purpose of producing prototypes is for registering patents. If your design is truly innovative, it may be worthwhile protecting it from theft and duplication with a patent. A prototype is a powerful tool for working with a Patent Attorney and defining what is unique about your product and can be protected by a patent. A prototype will also help you identify if your idea is in danger of infringing on an existing patent, giving you an opportunity to modify the design and avoid the risk of law suits.
The use of prototypes is essential in many industries, including the Automotive, Aviation, Consumer Products, Medical devices, and the Toy industries. Our engineers at Klipy Design will be happy to work with you on the prototypes you need in-order to ensure your R&D process is as fast and cost-effective as possible.