The intention of this article is that you understand what is rapid prototyping, when you need it and why it can be useful for you. Also, we will mention some types of rapid prototyping.
The biggest technology companies have reached a big share of the market thanks to a long business process. They manufacture great amounts of devices for the market, and customers buy them. However, these devices started one day as an idea, and probably, some of these ideas came up to life thanks to a rapid prototype process.
Rapid prototype – basic concept
If you are an entrepreneur, you need to understand that rapid prototyping is a method that will help you test your project or idea with a low budget, hence the name prototype, and in a really short time, that is, rapid. That is one simplistic way of explaining what rapid prototyping is.
However, we will expand on the definition of this concept to be clearer.
Rapid prototyping – technical definition
Rapid prototyping is a process in which a preliminary idea, design or project is tested as fast as possible by developing product simulations. These simulations are supported by a concept or design that the entrepreneur provides to hardware development companies that are specialized in rapid prototyping services.
Difference between rapid prototyping and 3D printing
People usually get confused when talking about rapid prototyping and 3D printing. They are different, but often, these terms are used interchangeably.
Rapid prototyping is the whole process of taking an idea and developing it in the fastest way possible with specific steps. The whole goal of rapid prototyping is to get a prototype done, no matter the materials used.
On The other hand, 3D printing is an additive manufacturing method used by rapid prototyping. As an entrepreneur, you can save time and money by using this. If you want to quickly test iterations of your prototype, you can go to your 3D printer and make changes by redesigning the parts you need.
Depending on the complexity, your printed part could take minutes or hours, but that’s why this method is so attractive, since a prototype can be tested in a short time
What is tested in rapid prototyping?
This method is part of the product development process, and provides useful information of design, functionality, and technology of the project that is being tested.
Several iterations can be performed to make the product design more appealing to the final consumer. The design of a product is a fundamental aspect that must convince the buyers of approaching it in a store, supermarket, or website.
In software, the design is approached from UX design. UX stands for user experience. A service or platform that is starting as a prototype needs to think of some basic components to guarantee acceptance in the market: look, feel, usability.
On the other hand, the design may affect the different electronic components the product or device needs to work properly. A complicated design may increase the production costs of the product. Instead, a more “generic” design would fit perfectly in the minds of the consumers.
We can see this often happening with the different phone brands. Every model they release has a few changes, but the essence of the phone is the same, a rectangle with lenses on the back, and a big screen in front. Changing that design could be a big risk for the company. It is not impossible to carry out, but it would require a lot of research and feedback from the market.
Technology manufacturing is not cheap. Don’t throw away hundreds of thousands of dollars by producing a device with an awful design. In this case, it’s better to invest in rapid prototypes. There are many companies out there that can help you with rapid prototyping, they usually are also specialists in product development.
When you design a platform or device with technology that is simple to use, your customers will appreciate more the product. One of the benefits of rapid prototyping services is that the quick user’s feedback helps you to save money in product development.
Many things can happen from the concept to the physical product. As an entrepreneur, the most important thing is to deliver a great product or service, one that really solves a particular need in a specific industry. However, if the rapid prototype proves that your business idea won’t really make a big difference in the market, why bother investing a big budget in its production?
Other issues may appear: your project is too expensive to produce. There is no market for your product. The device won’t generate good revenue.
The best scenario is the one where your project proves to be excellent, with one functionality (or several) that will be attractive enough to convince buyers to come to you. We did a cool example of fast prototyping for a dog collar, you could get inspired by it.
Rapid prototyping allows entrepreneurs to test different materials, chips, PCBs, and electronic components. Though the prototype is a basic version, it has the potential to become an MVP (Minimum Viable Product).
And the rapid prototyping engineering team needs to evaluate different components to create the best alternative for the construction of the project.
In this case, the development team can use 3D printing, or CNC machining. Each one can use different materials for the prototype. The main goal of this part is to test and iterate; it’s crucial for rapid prototyping.
Types of rapid prototyping
We could mention some rapid prototyping methods so you can have an idea of how this process can be performed: Prototype tooling, CNC machining, binder Jetting, Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM), among others.
These methods allow the rapid prototype company to use different materials such as, resin, aluminum, polycarbonate, nylon, silicone rubber, soft steel, and ultem. Also, these types of rapid prototyping are not expensive, and they can be carried out in just a few days.
The engineering team will propose what method to use according to the stage of the product, the type of device that will be built, and possible materials for the final prototype.
Why would you need rapid prototyping?
We have talked with many customers from different industries that have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because they didn’t care about the product development process.
Instead of prototyping, they go straight to the development of a Minimum Viable Product. What they have found in this part of the process is that the MVP was incomplete, the design had many flaws, or the business concept wasn’t completely understood by the engineering team.
The ideal scenario is to start over with the project; however, this implies more invested time until the testing and validation of the product. But the entrepreneur doesn’t want to lose the project he already has in his hands. He asks the product development company to do something with the “finished” device, then, the engineering team needs to reverse engineer the product to evaluate how it can be improved, this is a process that takes time.
When an entrepreneur starts his business project by building a rapid prototype, the obtained results will be more reliable for the next step, the MVP development process, therefore, the project will have more chances to succeed in the market.
If you need rapid prototyping, you can contact DeepSea Developments by clicking below. You will get engineering experts to test your prototype or business idea in a short time.