Prototype Development: What are Some Key Concerns?
Jun 28, 2017 02:44
You have an idea for a new product and have even gone as far as to come up with a basic design. Now you need to create a prototype that also serves as a working model. Before you talk with any manufacturer about producing this model, there are some key areas that should be addressed. Here are a few examples to keep in mind.
How Does the Design Offer Value to Potential Customers?
Your goal is to offer a new product that provides real value to consumers. That means it either needs to fill a need that is currently not being met or at least do a better job of meeting that need than the products already on the market. Go over your design carefully and identify how it’s different from similar products on the market. Do you believe it will work faster, be more compact, or possibly more cost-competitive? The answers to those questions will help you decide if building a prototype right now is wise or if you need to refine the design.
What Type of Materials Should Be Used?
The materials used for the prototypes parts is a major concern. Choose the wrong material and the prototype is not likely to work as well as expected. That may not seem like a big deal right now, but what happens if the prototype fails when you are trying to convince a room full of potential investors that the product is worthy of their time and money?
While it may be tempting to go with inferior materials for the prototype, talk with the manufacturer about using resources similar to those that would be used if the product goes into full production. Doing so means you end up with a functional model that is truly representative of what the product is capable of providing.
Can the Product Be Produced at a Reasonable Cost Per Unit?
You may invest in creating a wonderful prototype that performs well and convinces others that it will be a big hit with consumers, but what happens if the cost of producing it is prohibitive? Charging a higher unit price may not be an option. This is especially true when there are similar products on the market that may not be as efficient but are available at a much lower cost to your targeted consumer demographic. If you work with a manufacturer who can help you understand what it would take to produce the final product at different levels of production, it will be easier to determine what, if any, changes must be made so your clients will see it as affordable.
Does the Prototype Make Use of Standard Parts?
While it may be tempting to design something that requires custom parts, that makes the cost to you and to your customers higher. Even with something as simple as manufacturer fasteners it makes sense to go with standard sizes and materials. Along with keeping production costs in line, this also positions you to offer the final product to consumers at more competitive rates.
Remember that the purpose of a prototype is to convince others that your idea is a good one. Even if you do expect to make some refinements before it goes into production, make sure your prototype truly represents the end product. Doing so increases the odds of getting the financial backing you need and quickly making a positive name for yourself with those who choose to buy what you are selling.
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