Working on a rough idea, getting it through a series of further actions, and then ending it forming a final product, in the end, is relatively obscure. Talking specifically about prototyping then falls under the category of those critical skills that require you to bring a new idea, receive feedback, and work on it; sometimes, it’s mainly about repeating the same process repeatedly.
Undoubtedly, prototyping is a complex skill one can possess, and tremendous mental and physical labor is needed to bring the desired results. However, you can’t neglect its significance as it is a crucial part of new product design.
You may or may not be aware, but there exist different forms of prototypes. Anyone practicing it will usually start from a rough tangible draft and end at forming an attractive final product. In this article, I will be discussing everything worth knowing about rapid prototyping and other aspects related to it.
What is Rapid Prototyping?
Rapid prototyping is a repetitive process wherein you have to do continuous brainstorming and bring in innovative ideas to foresee the final picture of a new product.
Furthermore, you present those ideas through a rough sketch on paper and receive feedback accordingly to seek validation from developers, designers, stakeholders, and users.
You are supposed to practice this strategy till a design is finalized. In the end, you convert that rough draft into a final product that creates stimulation amongst the viewers. Hence, rapid prototyping is a comprehensive process that requires you to exercise this whole strategy to produce the best output.
If you work on rapid prototyping properly, the quality of your designs will likely be improved. Do you know why? Because such raised quality will enhance interaction between multiple parties. This way, rapid prototyping also ensures that nothing is built, that is not preferred by anyone.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Rapid Prototyping
Just like any other production process, prototype manufacturing also comprises some crucial advantages and disadvantages. Let’s try to understand its pros and cons through the points mentioned below:
● Reduction in product development expenditure
● Less time consuming
● Removal of risk
● Freedom of functionality testing
● Better evaluation of multiple human factors
● Chances of improvement in every stage while developing designs of new products.
● You may overlook some particular key features, due to which certain prominent parts may get neglected as well.
● Because of sophisticated technology, the rapid prototyping costs may be increased. Therefore, it’s somehow expensive.
● It’s not a matter of ordinary people. Some smart minds have to come together and work to produce the best outcome. Thus, it mandates that businesses hire skilled labor.
● The end users may be confused about mistaking the prototype as a finished project itself. The objectives of rapid prototypes might not be well understood.
The Rapid Prototyping Process
There are mainly three steps in rapid prototyping. All of these steps are repeated according to the need of the time:
● Prototype: It focuses on forming a physical pre-model of the part or the whole product. The typical rapid prototyping methods include CNC machining, 3D printing, vacuum casting, sheet metal fabrication, etc.
● Review: It includes involving the users and sharing the prototype with them. Users evaluate the prototype and justify whether it’s up to their needs and expectations or not.
● Refine: According to the feedback given by users through review, this step focuses on identifying those areas that require more clarification or improvement.
In a nutshell, the process of rapid prototyping begins with creating a physical pre-model by specifically focusing on primary areas, and thereafter you will observe that the process starts becoming more intricate as you move on, repeating every process after you receive feedback and gather more information through research and evaluation done by others.
You will be glad to know that you can also avail yourself of the rapid prototyping service that is provided by several prominent companies. So, if you don’t have any skilled personnel in your organization who can help you with rapid prototyping, you can always take immense benefits from such services available at reasonable pricing.
Prototyping Best Practices: Do’s And Don’ts
While you are planning to do rapid prototyping, it’s essential to keep note of some do’s and don’ts and implement them while you are executing this technique in your work.
To ascertain that you follow the best prototyping practices, follow the do’s and don’ts as briefly explained below:
● You should always involve users and stakeholders so that you can receive the optimum feedback while sharing your prototype. Following this way, you are also ensured of complete engagement from yourself as well as the owners and users of the final product.
● Make sure that you are setting expectations at the first step by ascertaining that all the users and other stakeholders know pretty well about prototyping that instead of representing it as an end product, it is a mere way to seek answers to specific questions.
● Try to make highly achievable goals so that you can always improve the product in the best possible manner. If you follow this principle accurately, nothing will disappoint any user or stakeholder when it comes to the final product.
● It’s highly suggested to never incorporate those features of the prototype that won’t be included in the final product.
● Never run after perfectionism, as it is not going to end anywhere. It will be good enough when you are aiming to provide a common ground to all through rapid prototyping.
● Lastly, don’t think about prototyping for everything you do, as it is only specified for certain business activities.
It can be concluded that it’s more about trying different trails at times while you are doing rapid prototyping. After all, it’s about incorporating the best that can perfectly fit your final product.
The most important thing you have to take care of is to inform the users/stakeholders/clients about the actual intention of the prototype you are forming. Besides, it’s also important to note that a prototype is not about providing a final solution, as it is discussed in the article above.