Creating a prototype is probably one of the most exciting stages of the product development process. It is essentially when your invention turns into a physical version of your idea. Use the creativity that allowed you to come up with the idea in the first place, to create something amazing that’s tangible and real.

What is a prototype?

You may have been told to create a prototype of your product, but you’re not entirely sure exactly what one is! Essentially, it is a representation of your design before the real one is made. It will have the same look and feel, and most likely, functionality as your real product. However, it will purely be for testing.

What types of prototypes can you get?

There are a variety of different reasons you would want to create a prototype of your product so that we can classify the prototypes into the following categories:

Visual Prototype:

These prototypes can be used as display products or a way to showcase your product at an event, or to a potential investor. Less expensive materials would be used, and it may not even contain working parts.

Concept Prototype:

This will not be visually similar to the final product, but is purely for testing the functionality and to test whether the concept actually works. “Off-the-shelf” components can be used in this prototype, so as not to waste money on custom parts in this early testing stage.

Presentation/Sales Prototype:

This is the most expensive type of prototype, as it is designed as close as possible to the final product. A mixture of materials will be used so that you can balance efficiency and quality, but this prototype will be used to test product viability before it is produced in mass. It is also what you would show to any investors or potential licensors.

What are the benefits of a prototype?

In addition to some of the benefits of the specific prototypes above, there are several other reasons why you should create a prototype. If anything, it will create credibility for the project – by creating a prototype, you demonstrate that it can be done and it is functional.

Benefits for licensing:

If you decide that you want to license your product, then a prototype is the way to go. You could produce a sales prototype, but this would more than likely be too costly. A concept prototype should suffice, as any investors who are interested in licensing your product should already be interested in the concept anyway. However, if you create a prototype, it might help you negotiate a better rate for your royalties!

Benefits for manufacturing:

Whether you are choosing to manufacture the product yourself or not, a prototype is usually the best way to go. The manufacturer can clearly visualise what is to be made and how the design can be further refined.

How to create a prototype

There are several ways you can create your prototype, but by far the most popular is by 3D printing. You can create parts of your product very quickly and efficiently. Here at Idea Reality, we work with with some of the best prototype manufacturing companies in the world! We have built up partnerships over the years, and we are confident that we can provide you with the most appropriate prototype options for your project.