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How to Turn Your Invention Into a Functioning Prototype

One of the most important tasks inventors and developers face is how to make a functioning prototype of their product. Yes, having blueprints, sketches, renders and videos is great, but if you’re looking for investors that can help you get your invention into mass production, you definitely need a prototype.

But, what is a functioning prototype, anyway?

The most basic definition: it’s model, an early sample, an initial release of a product that can be learned from or replicated.

You need a prototype so that you can test your product, make design improvements, determine what needs to be changed, how to make it more precise and how to enhance its finest features.

If you’re wondering where does the term prototype come from, it’s an ancient Greek word, prototypon (πρωτότυπον), which means ‘primitive form’, and is a derivate of original, primitive, first and impression.

It definitely serves the purpose of being the first impression of something.

What does a prototype mean to inventors?

A prototype permits the evaluation of a new product in a very practical form. It translates a blueprint into a representative three-dimensional item.

During the development process, an inventor (or a design team) frequently generates a series of prototypes. Successive models often offer a way to test and tweak possible solutions to design problems or features.

They may enhance the cohesion, utility and attractiveness of the final creation.

Preliminary Considerations

Many entrepreneurs utilize a prototype during the process of generating funding. Potential investors and clients may visualize the final product much better with the assistance of a working model.

However, this stage of development requires careful attention to controlling potential cost overruns. Crafting a realistic budget and adhering to financial constraints assists prototype developers.

The nature of the industry, the potential market, the capacity for future production and the available budget may all make a significant different in prototype implementation.

Design teams today enjoy at least three options for creating models of potential products:

  • DIY construction
  • utilizing a 3-D printer
  • retaining prototype services from an experienced product manufacturer.

This article will consider all three strategies (although we strongly recommend the third course of action).

Stage One: Sketches and Blueprints

Many people begin the process of creating a prototype by producing sketches of a product or a proposed innovation.

An iterative series of progressively changing drawings may lead to the production of a complete blueprint or CAD-generated design.

This step represents a significant accomplishment in the development process.

Make certain you obtain adequate legal protection for your intellectual property at this pivotal stage of the design process!

Patent, trademark and copyright protections assist developers in securing the benefits of their hard work.

In fact, this aspect of the development process usually continues today through successive generations of prototypes.

Stage Two: Manufacturing a Prototype

Building a prototype sometimes begins with do-it-yourself construction efforts on the part of an inventor or entrepreneur.

Many talented individuals possess the ability to create useful initial prototype models of products.

Recently, the popularity of 3-D printers has enabled the generation of inexpensive metal or plastic models of some items.

Size and production constraints may severely limit the ability of a high-tech printer to generate a working model, however.

The best option for the creation of a prototype usually involves locating a manufacturer with sufficient capabilities and expertise to furnish ongoing design and construction support services during this important phase of product development.

A company with previous experience in this specialized field can usually offer realistic materials options.

A manufacturer may also recommend alternative cost-effective methods for accomplishing a necessary design task during the prototype building phase.

Stage Three: Ongoing Product Iteration

In the majority of cases, the initial prototype does not become the final model for a new product. A development team may rely upon this tool for vital assistance in modifying and reformulating specific features of the proposed product.

Working with an competent prototype manufacturing firm usually proves exceedingly helpful during this phase.

Often, a design team may need to evaluate several possible solutions to problems.

Comparing working prototypes side-by-side may greatly assist this process. It can also offer invaluable assistance in evaluating and potential marketing and promotional aspects of the final product.

Today, some firms supply rapid prototype development services with fast turnaround times, a process which may expedite the entire process of bringing a new product or design to market.

Producing a Limited Edition

The final step in prototype development usually involves undertaking a limited production run.

Some prototype manufacturing facilities possess this capability.

Producing a fully functional prototype enables the development team to test the product in focus groups or targeted markets against competitors.

A limited production run also enables marketers to showcase certain products more effectively. Samples can permit potential investors to more fully appreciate an invention’s commercial potential, for instance.

Some venture capitalists prefer to conduct their own marketing surveys and analysis, rather than relying exclusively upon an inventor’s preliminary data.

Additionally, producing limited quantities of a new design permits the development team to submit samples to testing laboratories and reviewers.

Prototypes Assist Product Development

Constructing a prototype helps inventors bridge the gap between a good idea and a marketable product.

By developing a tangible, functional model, you’ll enjoy the ability to present your creation more effectively to prospective investors and customers.

Usually, obtaining prototype production services from an experienced manufacturing firm offers the best way to implement your project!


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From a contract manufacturing firm, BuntyLLC evolved into a full service custom machined, forged and cast metal parts fabrication enterprise. We supply global solutions from our headquarters in Greenville, South Carolina.

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