4 Major Tips for Designing a Working Prototype


Affordable as rapid prototyping services have become today, it’s still easy to make mistakes and bleed both time and money because of those mistakes.

Stay with us as we share a few important tips for designing a working prototype for testing and progressing toward your upcoming product.

#1 Keep Your Mistakes as “Digital” as Possible

It’s not just affordable CNC machining services that have made the very idea of prototype manufacturing a reality for smaller ventures and startups on shoestring budgets.

The role of highly advanced, prototype designing tools with extremely helpful features has been immense in their significance as well.

For example, digital product designing software tools can now be used in the following effects:

  • Identification of minor and major errors, with automatic correction options
  • Suggestions for a better design choice, whenever possible
  • Identification of potential problems
  • 3D simulation features for virtually testing the conceptual product
  • Availability of a wide selection of open working models and 3D design files online, made available to members in the vast online communities

Given the fact that engineers today have access to so many 3D prototyping, testing, and correcting features, it would be a waste not to use them to their full capacity in ironing out as many bugs as possible virtually, before sending the best possible design to your CNC prototyping machining services.

Also, the fewer errors your working prototype has, the less you will need to work on correcting errors, saving invaluable time in the process.

Of course, there’s only so much that digital tools can guarantee, and you will still need to test at least one or two batches of prototypes in real-life scenarios before finalizing production.

Nevertheless, this can drastically reduce the number of prototypes you will need to manufacture in real life, cutting down on the total project expense.

#2 Utilize (CNC) Machining Instead of 3D Printing

As we mentioned already, the ease of ordering CNC services online has made it possible for even small teams and startup ventures to start with prototyping and testing, before going forward with their mass production plans.

However, it’s only natural to wonder what makes CNC services better than 3D printing services.

There are certainly clear and undeniable advantages to CNC machining over 3D printing, which actually does make the former a more intelligent choice for prototyping, although not always the cheapest.

Quality and Accuracy

To have a working prototype that will convince investors into putting their trust and money in your project, it is important that the prototype represents your idea in the best possible way. Rapid prototyping services equipped with the proper CNC machining files are always going to be more consistent and of higher quality than the average 3D-printed product.

In fact, due to the computer-controlled accuracy that CNC machining brings to manufacturing, injection molding services can be even more accurate than traditional injection molding processes, which is quite a feat.

A Much Wider Range of Choice for Materials

3D printing services suffer from two primary issues in regard to the choice of materials:

  • They can at this time work with only a limited number of materials
  • 3D printing materials are not very durable

Therefore, if you want sheet metal prototyping, 3D printers are out of the question!

CNC Machining Services Do Not Have to be Super Expensive

In spite of the many advantages, rapid prototyping with CNC services can get a little expensive, but you can keep the costs manageable by using the affordable CNC services China has been providing the world with for decades at this point.

However, not all online CNC services China has to offer are up to the task though. Be sure to work with a company that has an actual, international reputation to bank on.

For example, RapidDirect is both a resource of knowledge for getting to know the world of affordable CNC services China has the infrastructure to deliver, as well as being a top name in online CNC services themselves.

Whether you are looking for prototype molding (injection molding services), sheet metal fabrication, or any other kind of rapid tooling services, they can get it done and delivered to you at a cost-efficient rate.

As a matter of fact, they can even deliver 3D printed prototypes if you prefer it over the more accurate rapid machining services.

Their service offering includes online quotes, real-time order tracking, and integrated quote management, making the process smooth and efficient.

#3 Design Your First Prototypes with Innovation and Quality in Focus: Business Comes Later

It is a common mistake to undermine business goals while releasing something new in the market, but it’s even more common these days to see subpar products being released just to meet deadlines, or to increase profit margins.

This is actually one more reason why prototyping is so essential. To understand how to successfully utilize prototyping methods for prioritizing innovation, quality, and business at the same time, let’s go through a few key points:

  • When you concentrate on only quality and innovation while designing, you are going to get better results
  • Prototypes are not production units, so they give you the opportunity to refine the design to its best possible version
  • Once the most polished version has been designed, that’s your final prototype, but not your final product
  • Begin aligning your final product design with business specifics, goals, budget per production unit and customer demand/order
  • Stripping features and lowering quality in certain areas to meet those targets will likely be necessary, but the final product will still be the best marketable version of the original
  • Outsource the process for saving costs
  • The final prototype design, on the other hand, can be continuously improved and updated, keeping the path to long term evolution alive

Nobody trying to sell something can ignore business considerations, but you cannot focus solely on it from Day One, without severely affecting the final product’s quality and the project’s future prospects.

#4 Business Goals Take Precedence While Fulfilling Someone Else’s Order

An exception to the “innovation first” strategy would have to be observed if you are designing preordered and predetermined products.

In such situations, the product should be designed with specific order instructions and business goals in mind from the beginning.

There is not much to innovate when the final outcome has already been defined by the customer unless that freedom is allowed of course. A few key points to note while designing a product with limited or no flexibility are as follows:

  • Prototype manufacturing cycles should be focused on whether or not the design works exactly how the client wants it to work
  • Sending out promising prototypes to the client for input and updates is highly recommended
  • Wasting time on improving the prototype designs further than the client wants it to would be a bad business decision

Each prototype represents a certain stage of development in the final product’s evolution, and without prototypes, we would not be able to test the preproduction unit, detect and debug issues, further modify the design, add features, and progress onward to the next stage of development.

Time and again, product designs have been reinvented and redesigned by going back to a prototype in the original’s development and working in a different direction from there onwards.

Therefore, their relevance is more time resistant than the final products themselves.

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