How do I get my prototype made?
You have a great idea and have decided to put time, energy, and some serious resources into making it a reality. What’s next? A prototype. You may be asking yourself:
Why do I need to complete or even develop a functioning prototype?
A prototype is the essential first step for transforming an idea into an actual, physical product.
If you are just getting started with your idea, a prototype is a great way to get the feedback you need to ensure you are creating an effective product. You can make prototypes in different stages as well. If finances are an issue, you can start by creating a very rough model. This can be the initial guide to define the exact size and proportion of the product. It can be made very quickly with materials you find around your own home. If you have allotted a bit of money to your prototype and are looking for a product development firm to help you, we still recommend that you begin with a rudimentary prototype. Even at its most basic, you can use this initial prototype to present your idea to the design firm and help everyone understand the product and how to take that prototype to the next level.
Prototypes are made for several reasons: testing a product to see if it really works; making sure the ergonomics and sizes are appropriate for the target market; for pitching or marketing purposes; and, finally, for manufacturing.
When you have a small invention made of one or a few parts, it is best to 3D print your prototype. An expert product development firm can even make you a functioning prototype. It can look as real as a tooled-up sample. This prototype can be tested and revised. You can also get constructive feedback on it. When inventions are small, it’s easy to work with the prototypes until they are ready. You can make your pitches with them and use them for all your marketing material.
Below are two examples of 3d printed functioning prototypes that were used for marketing purposes, feedback and for pitching the idea to potential investors.
The method for creating the prototype depends on what type of invention you have. For example, your invention may be made of fabric or soft materials. In this case, you don’t need to involve a 3D printer. In some cases, you may even be able to do it yourself. To ensure your prototype has the precise size and shape your design requires, you may need to hire a product development firm to help. When designing soft products, stencils are needed in order to communicate with the manufacturer how it’s done. These stencils are first created by hand or in a software program, then printed or hand-cut and hand-stitched or glued to create a sample prototype.
Depending on the form and purpose of your invention, you may not have to spend a lot of money on it. You may even be able to make it out of cardboard, paper, plastic, or wood. Some inventions require less craftsmanship and some are more complex.