A quick, tangible, and physical model of a new product or idea.
How Rapid Prototypes Works
Companies often develop rapid prototypes using 3D printing or simply putting miscellaneous items together to quickly bring an idea to life. From there, rapid prototypes can give insight into what aspects of the design and/or idea backing the model might need to be changed. Not only this, but a rapid prototype also allows a company to show and better demonstrate their idea or product to others, particularly those who do not have an in-depth understanding of the work behind the model.
In most cases, rapid prototypes are made quickly with slightly different takes on how a company can implement the desired design. These different models can be tested and reviewed to see how they could contribute to the final product. A rapid prototype evaluates why specific designs work while others do not. By combining different successful designs, a company can get the most out of and produce the best version of the idea.
Rapid prototypes are often easy to make, cheap, and relatively productive when utilized correctly. And suppose a company does not have the tools to create a rapid prototype or series of rapid prototypes. In that case, there are firms or industrial institutions that make models for others. Most of these external producers advertise shockingly fast turnaround times at low rates; with the right firm, a company could get a rapid prototype back in as little as one day without excessive fees or hassle.
Example of a Rapid Prototype
Say a company was trying to build the next energy-conservative light bulb. One of the first rapid prototypes of this vision could be a simple 3D-printed design of how the light bulb would look, considering the different shapes, designs, and dimensions that a company could utilize. A company could make many rapid prototypes to model and compare ideas. Eventually, the company might even find a mix of these different prototypes to have an advantage. They are easier to use or are better at conserving energy over the light bulbs currently on the market.
At this point, it would be best to create an even more developed prototype, one that could be used and tested. These prototypes could be given to consumers to test and give feedback on incorporating the user experience into the design process. In this way, the company will cater the final product to the consumer group they are trying to sell or introduce the light bulb to.
The production, analysis, and feedback process on different prototypes of varied shapes, designs, dimensions, levels of energy used, and many other factors would most likely involve the production of numerous models. Hopefully, a company would one day create the energy-conservative light bulb that stands out from its competition due to those many rapid prototypes and the insight that they provided.
Significance of Rapid Prototype
When a company decides to create a product, the rapid prototype process follows a pattern. First comes the product idea. Then the idea is built. After it is made, the prototype is reviewed, then it is refined and rebuilt. The cyclical process continues until the product meets or exceeds expectations set by the company. Once the rapid prototype is approved, production can begin. Without rapid prototypes, there would not be growth and eventual production of a product.