It’s averaged that more than 30,000 products are launched each year, but of that number only 30% of launches will manage to sustain or grow their sales within the first two years. While this certainly doesn’t seem like any figure worth knowing (it’s slightly depressing to be honest), it does suggest that we may all benefit from further evaluating processes.
Think about it this way, before you even imagine bringing a product to market, are you confident in your product’s usability, design, and even in its ability to be replicated on a larger scale? If you’re wavering in your response, then perhaps it’s worth spending some more time in the prototype stage.
You may even want to consider the use of a rapid prototyping service. This is a prototyping service built around speed and easy replication. As such, we’ve outlined the benefits of rapid prototyping services and any related points to consider before choosing something that works for your company.
A prototype is a model created to test a concept early on. Prototyping serves as a way to test your process before jumping into the final product. Often in this stage you can expect to find components that work, and others that need to be fixed. For example, take our Plant Sensor Prototype that we built at the Nashville Maker Faire.
We first identified a need by realizing that so many of us unintentionally kill our plants (we’ve all been there). The problem is certainly broad, but for our purposes let's say we intended to make a product for homeowners. Sure, we could expand into a product built for farmers, but this is where it’s important to realize that you can’t always design for everyone in mind.
You need to focus on one user to start, with the potential for expansion. So in this case, homeowners are a much more realistic choice for scale and feasibility right now. A prototype for a farmer would most likely include a massive scale, and not the right approach for this prototype.
Testing at scale is one of the best aspects of rapid prototyping. Think about the time it takes to even get to market and then the amount of products that fail because they missed key design elements that negatively impacted the user. This is not to say that faster is necessarily better (you should still strive to practice due diligence).
However, this concept of speed and customization suggests that we must consider best practices for a changing world. What suited the market 50 years ago will not work the same today. It’s important to keep a pulse on industry trends to stay ahead.
Rapid prototyping services have become the way of the future. As we explore material use and efficiency in design, we must also recognize the benefits of prototyping in this fashion. Below we’ve broken down the top 5 reasons to consider rapid prototyping.
Realism is the ultimate goal when designing a prototype. You can improve on your final product by utilizing initial user testing before going to market. Your attention to detail will pay off down the road, even if it feels tedious at times. A lot of the prototyping process takes time and brainstorming to come to a cohesive final product. Spend the time focused on product quality in the prototyping phase to ensure that your final product fully captures what you intended.
In the past engineers and designers had to wait to see if their CAD drawing would work once a prototype was manufactured. But we’ve come a long way from waiting around. You can now catch problems quicker because you can now design and print faster than ever. Feel free to test for form and function so as to find every possible issue before moving on to the next stage of testing. Your clients will also be super impressed with your due diligence, even if it’s the smallest thing.
We’d all love to be able to take our prototype and really test it out, but cost often hinders this process. You want to test for fit and durability, but if you’re against constraints it becomes difficult to do the full test drive. That’s why you should consider rapid prototyping to give you more time and get legitimate feedback from testers. Let’s say you have a prototype that’s meant to take a lot of wear and tear, how are you going to simulate conditions if you can’t keep making new prototypes to test? If you use a rapid prototyping service, you can effectively print realistic and testable 3D models for future use.
Cost sets the tone for most things in life, so why wouldn’t it factor into your production? Normally designing a product becomes expensive quickly, especially if you have to purchase new equipment. Rapid prototyping can use 3D printing to alleviate previously high costs. You can also CNC a prototype out of aluminum to test before it is eventually made of steel, or another more expensive material. This gives you more control over how many parts you can test and ultimately can work to cut your costs in the long run.
The beauty of immediacy in prototyping is that you can get direct feedback from clients or investors before taking to market. You don’t have to put all your eggs in one basket, with one prototype that you probably spent so much time and money on perfecting. Prototyping should be seen as beneficial for all parties involved. You can get in front of investors and actually test out your prototype without fearing that you only have one shot to get it right.
Examples of Rapid Prototyping Services
Rapid prototyping is a wide arena with varying service types. That’s why we’ve provided a few services to keep in mind.
They provide prototyping and production services including: machining, metal fabrication, casting, injection molding, and 3D printing among other capabilities. They work across industries like medical devices, electronics, automotive, and aerospace.
Xometry provides services for additive manufacturing, CNC machining, sheet and tube fabrication, plastic and metal part production. They’ve worked with NASA, Nexa3D, and Thermaco.
Provides injection molding service, CNC machining service, 3D printing service, and sheet metal fabrication.
Offers services for CNC machining, injection molding, 3D printing, and urethane casting. They’ve worked with Honeywell, NASA, and Ford on projects.
They offer services in additive prototyping, advanced prototyping and manufacturing services such as laser cutting, 3D, injection molding, and urethane casting. They have locations across the country and work in a variety of industries.
A prototype can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. It all depends on what you are prototyping and the cost associated with manufacturing it. You can cut costs by looking into cheaper materials or 3D printing capabilities through rapid prototyping services. However, your main thoughts should be to evaluate what you want to make, how it serves your intended audience, and is it scalable for widespread use.
Take the time to think about what you’re making and if you need to spend thousands of dollars on something that can be tested for a few hundred dollars instead. In this time evaluate your risks and keep a realistic mindset.
You can also lean on industry professionals if you’re new to prototyping. At Ovyl we’ll work through the design process with you in three key stages.
Strategy - User Research, Requirement Gathering, Feasibility Testing, Technical and Component Research
Development - Engineering, Simulation and Analysis, Rapid Prototyping, Design for Manufacturing and Assembly
Production - Quotation Prep, Factory Selection/Liaison, Sample Review
Rapid prototyping is a great way to speed up your testing process, while also utilizing newer machinery/technology in the process. As fast as the world may seem it appears that the nature of prototyping has matched that in every way possible. To ensure that your product makes it to market successfully, why not work with a dedicated team to help you from start to finish.
Our Ovyl team is close-knit with expertise in Product Strategy, Industrial Design, Electrical Engineering, Software Development, Firmware Development, Mechanical Engineering, and Sourcing and Manufacturing.
Basically, if you think it – we can handle it. To start your project today, get in contact with us and we’ll get back to you ASAP to start the conversation.