The Rapid Prototyping method was presented to the marketplace for the first time in 1987, and ever since then it has become an important process for engineers and manufacturers. It adds value to the overall product development cycle as it allows products to be generated, verified and processed without having the need for production tooling while cutting the costs cardinally. And today, a functional prototype cannot be neglected for how it has completely changed the design and manufacturing industry. Let us see what prototyping is and what are some of its types.
Prototyping is the process to validate the likelihood a product can be proficient of cracking complications that are needed to be solved. A prototype looks real enough to be interacted by users and get feedback. If there is any chance of the user not liking the generated prototype or gives negative feedback, the organization is saved considerable amounts of money, time and resources to come up with a product that won’t perform in real sense. While the positive feedback or user liking the prototype means that the product concept managed to be on point and aids in the advanced product growth.
On the other hand, rapid prototyping can be a little different. It is basically the speed in which the prototype is produced and processed. It also means how fast the feedback can be gathered and synthesized or how quickly the ensuing recapitulations can go through the same method. It, therefore, is essential for teams to strike a balance between generating prototypes that look almost real so that users can react and provide real feedbacks quickly.
Prototypes can be categorized based on the degree of accuracy required. They also are classified on the basis of product development stage the technology is applied. Let us discuss a few of them.
There are three types of prototypes based on what they represent; Functional Prototypes, Display Prototypes, and Miniatures.
The Functional Prototypes are made to imitate the functions of the actual product as closely as possible, just like the name of this prototype indicates. These prototypes are usually made for products which are based or dependent on the function instead of the appearance they have.
Functional Prototypes have A-Class surface geometry and is used for material selection while it validates CAD components. The production of this prototype offers a clear demonstration of the viability of the product while also allowing for changes to enhance the usability of the final version.
In the Display Prototypes, the focus shifts towards the look and feel of the product instead of how it functions concerning the actual product. The Display Prototypes might not function like the actual product all the time, however, they certainly do look the same. This type of prototype is usually used in the fashion industry where looks are comparatively important.
The miniature prototypes are smaller and basic versions of the actual product, where not only does the display matter but the function as well. Moreover, the display prototypes are not the actual prototypes and do not have many qualities of the actual one. For instance, not working like the actual product with full capacity and strength. These prototypes are usually developed by 3D printing of the actual product.
On the other hand, there are two types of prototypes based on how they are used. The throwaway prototypes and the evolutionary prototypes.
Throwaway prototypes are models that are eventually discarded or thrown away instead of becoming a part of the actual product, and that is why they are called throwaways. The throwaway prototypes are used to depict what an actual product can do, and that is where their job ends. They are also known as close-ended prototypes and are used in the early stages of design when a significant number of ideas and concepts are in consideration. Since the throwaway prototype is thrown away instantly after being used, they are cheap and are used in industries where the products are released at a low state of refinement.
The evolutionary prototypes use a different strategy than the previous mentioned type, and involves creating a basic and robust prototype in a manner that further can be improved. It is then built upon to form an actual product. Such a process of creating a prototype avoids wasting of resources to a great extent. This prototype is constantly refined to depict a product change and the future product state of the art demonstration. This one tends to be an expensive investment which is common in industries like the automotive, requiring products to be completely refined just before they get in the market.