3 Essential Steps in Building a Product Prototype

Some great product ideas come in a flash, like Percy Spencer’s microwave or Mr. Goodyear’s vulcanized rubber. It’s that eureka movement that gave these inventors the chance to make their products known to the world. But unlike ideas that occur in the spur of a moment, product development takes a lot of time. It involves connecting with a lot of people: the graphic artist, sourcing company, product testers, and more. It sure is a taxing job.

One of the most important phases of product development is making your prototype. It enables you to get feedback from people so you can evaluate the functionality and appeal of your item. If you’re new to this, here are the essential steps to get started on the process:

  1. Draw Your Design
    The first thing you have to do is put your ideas on paper. Create a simple drawing of what the product will look like. It doesn’t have to be accurate but include as many details as you can. If the item comes in parts, indicate them in your sketch.This process makes it easier for you to visualize your product. It also helps you think of possible improvements.After several sketches, finalize your design. You can do it on your own, or you can hire an artist to produce a more accurate rendition. A detailed illustration will make it easier for manufacturing professionals to create your prototype. It’ll also help with the patent process in the future.
  2. Put It in 3D
    Converting your drawings into a computer-generated model will make the executionof your project more efficient. Since it shows the physical dimensions of an object clearly, it’s easier for you and your team to spot potential problems in the design and correct them as early as possible. As a result, you’ll have fewer order changes, less rework, and reduced lead time.

Also, if you’re planning to have your parts 3D printed by an international sourcing company, you definitely need a three-dimensional render of your design. It’s the digital file from where the printer gets the information to create a solid object. Without it, you can’t 3D print anything.

Some three-dimensional printers offer digital rendering. But if you want to cut costs, there are many affordable, user-friendly modeling software that you can use. Some of them are even free.

Make Your Prototype
When it comes to making your prototype, you can either think of a specific audience ortarget the mass market. One way or the other, you have to connect with a manufacturer/ sourcing company to produce your prototype. The following will help you decide what kind of company you should partner with:

For Products with a Special Market
If your itemhas a niche market, you need a specializedmanufacturer who can produce unique parts for one-of-a-kind designs. Examples ofsuch commodities are buy-it-for-life products, smart gadgets, and specialty items like limited editiontoys and vintage-style camera parts.

For Items with a Broad Consumer Base
If you’re planning to mass-produce your merchandisein the future, contact a manufacturerwho’s experienced in producing components similar to what you need. Verify if they’re legitimate and if their services fit your budget. Check their track record, and make sure they deliver quality products in a timely manner.

A final word of advice: don’t expect your first prototype to be perfect. It’s fine if they come out unworkableand with tons of different issues. Product development has several stages, but with an international sourcing company that you can trust, producing your samples will be much easier and more efficient.

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