Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Prototype your Idea or Invention.

This comes second nature to many individuals who have thought of a new idea or invention out of necessity. Especially when it comes to a new tool for around the house or work. Many inventors have created homemade prototypes and use there idea on a regular basis. By doing so they have amble time testing there idea and making improvements.

However, if you find yourself less then mechanically inclined there are a few ways to simplify making the prototype or physical model of your idea. But first lets briefly discuss the two main types of early stage prototypes (non-functional and functional).

  1. Non-functional prototype (Mainly to examine the overall appearance, form and feel you want. Good start and motivational builder. Gives you the opportunity to examine for early improvements or modifications.)

  2. Functional Prototype (A working model. If it is feasible this will give you the ability to test, improve, retest and improve until you have a solid product.)

Don't be surprised to find yourself with many changes in the beginning, James Dyson the inventor of the Dyson vacuum cleaners went through thousands of prototypes to see his vision through. Of course he was creating new technology but this is why it is a good idea to design your idea first. Draw it out or design it on the computer. If you need help use a professional to design your idea. Early design work can save you time and money later in the development process. A good design start would be to have a 3d rendering created. This is like a 3d model of your product on the computer. Usually, it is not movable yet so get multiple views to have good representation. This will make your idea look like a real product and you can still make changes before a prototype is created. The more visual you can be in the beginning the better.

Usually, the most inexpensive way to prototype your product is to make a homemade model. This can mean simply buying modeling clay or cardboard to create a model for visual effect. It can be a great way to be hands on with your project. Depending on the complexity of the idea, your skill level and motivation you may feel capable to create a working prototype. Go out and buy the material to create it and because you did the initial design work you can use that as your template. Of course, at some point you will probably want to create a professional prototype to understand and solve manufacturing issues, tooling and production costs as well as to do product testing. Also, remember that when you are having a professional prototype created find out whether the prototype will be functional or non functional. Don't just assume that your prototype will be functional.

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