Prototyping for any field is important, but consumer product prototype development is useful for many reasons. Here are a few:
Helps you determine if your concept is a viable one:
Unlike business-to-business products, consumer products must often be unique items that haven’t been previously available, or must represent an improvement on an existing product. Prototyping your concept and early design can help you get real-world feedback — whether from potential investors, or family and friends — on a tactile, three-dimensional piece. Drawings (even CAD models) just can’t provide the same experience.
Helps you iterate on and perfect your product:
Much like your initial concept testing, prototyping as you move further along in design and development gives you the most realistic representation of the current state of your product. With a 3D model in hand, you can identify potential areas for change and improvement that you may not have noticed on a sketch or technical drawing.
Can create a more efficient production process:
As you iterate on your design, you may notice elements in your prototypes that aren’t necessary or that may be prohibitively difficult to manufacture. By identifying and optimizing or eliminating these elements, your final production process can be faster and more cost-effective, providing bottom-line benefits that can be passed to suppliers and your end customers. With price being a key driver for consumers, this benefit shouldn’t be underestimated.
Can aid in manufacturability:
As you optimize the design of your product, it’s important to be aware of best practices for the final production process you plan to use. A 3D prototype can help you determine, for instance, if “wall” sections of your product can or should be thicker or thinner, or if hollow areas are in danger of collapsing. Prototyping for manufacturability can help lower your production costs and reduce the number of part rejections.
Can help identify potential production problems — prior to production:
Production problems, such as part rejections or improper design, are among the worst things that can happen to your product. The lost time and lost material and equipment costs can be significant, and can make an enormous negative impact on your bottom line. Spending extra time and investment in prototyping is more than worth the effort in light of the potential risks.
Can provide an unparalleled replication of your finished product:
Throughout the development of your product, as you iterate and refine its look, feel and functionality, the question that’s likely to remain at the forefront of your mind is, “Will it work?” Functional prototyping gives you the answer to that question — and the broad range of prototyping options available today make it easier than ever to produce a functional prototype at a reasonable cost, with fast turnaround times.