In much of my posts, I have often mentioned the need of a prototype throughout the invention process. However, why exactly is a prototype needed and what are its benefits?
Having a rapid prototype of your idea or invention designed and produced is the best way to test it for form, fit and function. A prototype allows you the opportunity to hold the product in your hands in addition to potentially using it for marketing purposes. Having your idea produced into a tangible product is a pivotal step in the invention process. A prototype embodies that transition and allows you the chance to make sure that the product works as you intended.
Too many inventors make the mistake of never having a prototype made. Without a prototype, inventors who enter the manufacturing stage run the risk of costly mistakes. What happens if you have a large quantity of your product manufactured only to discover, at the end of the production, an error in the design? What if only then you realize that the parts do not fit together correctly? At this point, the mistake is both extensive and expensive; with a prototype, these potential errors could be avoided as you can see firsthand any design faults or required modifications.
Prototypes can be produced in a variety of ways to ensure that inventors receive the best result that is most similar to the final manufactured product. As with everything, research each method to ensure the best choice that will yield a prototype with similar textures, weight and size to the final product.
Opportunity to Test: Prototypes allow you to test for form, fit and function before manufacturing.
Inexpensive Errors: An error in a prototype is far less expensive than an error in a manufactured product (think large quantities and costs associate with labor, overhead, tooling, manufacturing, etc.). Because every invention runs the risk of failure, a prototype is a great means to test the product and finalize its design before beginning a large production. By taking this step, inventors eliminate the risk of extensive manufacturing errors that can be detrimental to the budget.
Similarity: They closely, if not exactly, mimic the final manufactured product. This means that inventors can see firsthand potential problems with the design as well as how it will look and feel to consumers.
Marketing: The rapid prototype can be used for marketing to potential customers and investors. In addition, the prototype can also be used to get a head start on website advertisements, photos and other advertising designs that will help launch your product into the market.
Accuracy: As with any concept or idea, a design is subjective and can sometimes be misunderstood or misinterpreted. A prototype improves accuracy and interpretation of the design and the product because it is a tangible product that can be evaluated.
Feedback: With a prototype, inventors have the opportunity to put the product in the hands of others to gain valuable insight and feedback, both of which can be vital to a product’s success in the market.
Whether you are 100% certain that your invention is perfect or if you have any doubts of potential flaws, a prototype can mean a world of difference to your results. A minor expenditure, a prototype can save both time and money throughout the invention process.