Prototypes are an essential part of the design process, but they can also be quite expensive.
The cost of a prototype can be attributed to the time and materials required to create it. What is not always considered in this equation is that prototypes often reveal design flaws early on in the production stage which save considerable amounts of money later down the line. A prototype can be used as a test model for functionality, durability or aesthetics.
It has been said that “Prototypes are worth 10x more than drawings because you get instant feedback about what will work and what won’t”. The extra cost involved with creating prototypes pays off in saved costs at every step after development begins.
Why prototypes are needed in the design process
Prototypes are essential in the design process as they allow for a test model of the product. This can help to reveal any flaws in the design early on, which can save considerable amounts of money later down the line. Additionally, prototypes can help to test functionality, durability and aesthetics. By creating a prototype, designers are able to get instant feedback about what works and what doesn’t, which can be helpful in improving the final product.
A design prototype can be an expensive process due to the time and materials required. However, the additional cost of creating a prototyped product over a detailed drawn-out design is often reduced by savings that are made as a result of any flaws that are identified early on in the production stage. The cost of producing a prototype can also be reduced by the reduction in time spent during the development process which can save time and money.
Why is time one of the elements that determine the cost of a prototype?
For most prototypes, it can take anywhere between 1 week to 3 months to design and manufacture. Additionally, many designers are working on multiple projects at once so this time may be longer depending on the number of projects they are working on. This time can increase even further if design problems or revisions are to be made during the process. The time that goes into designing and manufacturing a prototype can be quite significant.
How much more expensive is a prototype is compared to the final product?
The cost of a prototype can be anywhere from 10 to 100 times more expensive than the final product. If a company is creating simple products, this may not be relevant but for complex products with lots of components and testing involved, the cost of producing the prototype is often much higher than the final product.
Understanding the material and manpower costs associated with a prototype
The materials associated with creating a prototype may be similar to those for the final product. However, prototypes require more testing and this can increase their cost as more materials are required. Additionally, many designers work on multiple projects at once so time spent on creating the first prototype of one project
How are design issues identified?
Design flaws are often identified through testing, so prototypes allow designers to test the product before sending it into production. Design problems may also come up during the development stage which is where 3D printing comes in. Design issues are identified through testing, so prototypes allow designers to test the product before sending it into production
How prototyping saves in costs in manufacturing
As well as testing the product, prototypes are often used to test the manufacturing process which allows companies to refine it before mass production begins. The time and resources involved with designing a prototype can be reduced by making small design changes at this stage instead of larger ones after the product has been manufactured.
When it would be appropriate to use a prototype vs not using one at all
Design prototypes are expensive and often take a lot of time to create. Even the most simple products may need design prototyping because it can help identify any flaws in the plan early on, which saves money down the road. It's worth considering whether your product is complex enough for this process or if you're just looking for feedback from customers about what they want out of your final product. If you do decide that creating a prototype will be beneficial, we hope our advice has helped guide you through how to save costs with manufacturing and testing during development so that there aren't major changes required after designing and producing your first model.