Prototype > Prototyping Process

Prototype Manufacturing & Design

During the inventing process there are different development stages which require different types of prototypes. The first question you should ask yourself is what type of prototype do you need.  Is it to demonstrate the functionality of the product, a simple visualization, or getting it ready for manufacture? It is a good idea to seek professional help as building a prototype can be prohibitively expensive.

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What type of prototype do you need?

Wind-E-Lite invention prototype design

Visual prototype

Inventors assessing how to manufacture a new product often start with a visual prototype. This type of invention design is intended to showcase the overall shape and dimensions of the product, though it typically does not contain working parts. The materials that comprise this type of prototype are also not usually the same materials that would be utilized in the manufacturing of the final product. Visual prototypes can be presented as raw material or be painted to portray a more realistic representation of the final product.

Proof-of-Concept prototype development example

Proof-of-concept prototype

A proof-of-concept prototype is designed to provide a demonstration of the core functionality of the product while showcasing the technical aspects of the product design. Visually, this type of prototype is not intended to appear exactly as the final product will, and in many cases this type of prototype design will use “off-the-shelf” components in the interest of cost savings. It is uncommon to see production grade materials used in a proof-of-concept prototype.

ChargeEm design prototype with electronics exposed

Presentation prototype

A presentation prototype is a working representation of how the end invention design will look, while also offering a working demonstration of the product functionality. This prototype option will typically be comprised of a mix of production grade materials and off-the-shelf components to balance cost efficiency with design quality. This prototype is a good option to show product viability prior to beginning mass manufacturing.

Multiple color variations from SinkStation prototype manufacturing process

Prototype Design for Manufacturing

If you are definitely planning on manufacturing the product, a presentation prototype is a good starting point. From this, it would be possible to approach manufacturers and discuss any minor changes that may be needed to start mass-production. This is an add-on service at an additional cost, and is not included in the presentation prototype package, simply because not all clients will need this. Some may just need a presentation prototype to take to a meeting with a company, who, if interested, could take on the design for manufacturing themselves.

NB.Following prototyping there may still be additional work required in order to proceed to manufacture. Often the Prototype is enough, or we can provide CAD files where necessary. Prototype manufacturing data and engineering drawings may still be needed and we can assist with this, where relevant.

Why is a Product Prototype Necessary?

A prototype can help to add value to a project as well as credibility.

In some instances, you will need to be able to prove that your concept works and that the theoretical design translates into a working model.Often a design prototype may better demonstrate the product: this is particularly the case if looking to present in situations such as “Shark Tank”.

How is a Prototype Useful for Licensing?

Prototype development is not essential, but can add value to a project. This is particularly the case if you need to prove that the concept works. In this instance, a basic Proof-of-Concept Prototype would be adequate to demonstrate the basic fundamentals of the idea. Some people may choose a more refined prototype to strengthen their presentation, but the associated cost of this needs to be weighed up against other factors. Sometimes, a prototype may help you to negotiate a higher percentage of royalties.

Close up of ChargeEm invention design

How is an Invention Prototype Useful for Manufacturing?

Prototypes are almost essential when looking to manufacture. In some instances the CAD designs from the Design Process are enough to send directly to a manufacturer, but this is predominantly only if the product is very simple and composed of existing parts. More often than not, a prototype will be necessary prior to approaching a manufacturer in order to further refine the design.

We use rapid prototyping in SLS, SLA and FDM for smaller products which allows a real 3D model to be built from the CAD file. Larger models can be fiberglass, vacuum formed or machined.

Prototype > Prototyping Process

How to Manufacture a Product with Innovate

Innovate has their own on-site workshop used for prototype manufacturing done at a number of varying levels. For anything we cannot help with we have company links with which we can outsource some modeling. Prototypes can only be quoted once design work is complete.To learn more about how Innovate can help you better understand how to make a prototype of your idea, contact one of our specialists today!

Prototyping services that Innovate Design offer include:

  • Rapid Prototyping
  • CNC Machining
  • Vacuum Casting
  • Tooling
  • Laser Cutting
  • Electronics Development
  • Fabric Prototypes
  • Mechanical Design

There are several different styles and progressions of prototypes that Innovate can help create for your project, dependent on your individual needs.