Prototyping for consumer products presents a set of unique challenges, different from prototyping for any other type of product (such as industrial or medical products). The immensely vast scope of what consumer products can entail means that a consumer prototyping company must be versatile and adaptable, while simultaneously focusing on a few key strengths. Consumer goods prototyping can take many forms — from initial “look-and-feel” prototypes, to functional prototyping, to manufacturability testing — to name a few. Because prototyping is as important a part of the consumer product development process as it is for any other type of product, it’s critical to identify what types of prototyping you’ll need, and ensure that your prototypes can provide the results and functionality that you need to perfect your product.
What Is Consumer Prototyping?
In such a broad field, consumer prototyping can have many meanings — but the basic concept will always remain the same. Consumer prototyping is a way to produce a 3D representation of your current product design. It can be produced in several ways: through 3D printing, injection molding or CNC machining, among other methods. Prototyping can also serve a different purpose at each various stage of your product development process. For example:
- Concept stage: Prototypes can be used for investor pitches and early stage design testing
- Design stage: Early aesthetic assessment, basic functionality testing
- Dedicated prototyping stage Multiple iterations to perfect design and functionality
- Pre-production stage: Manufacturability testing, final testing for look, feel and functionality
Why Should Consumer Product Prototyping Be Done?
Prototyping for any field is important, but consumer product prototype development is useful for many reasons. Here are a few:
Helps you determine if your concept is a viable one: Unlike business-to-business products, consumer products must often be unique items that haven’t been previously available, or must represent an improvement on an existing product. Prototyping your concept and early design can help you get real-world feedback — whether from potential investors, or family and friends — on a tactile, three-dimensional piece. Drawings (even CAD models) just can’t provide the same experience.
Helps you iterate on and perfect your product: Much like your initial concept testing, prototyping as you move further along in design and development gives you the most realistic representation of the current state of your product. With a 3D model in hand, you can identify potential areas for change and improvement that you may not have noticed on a sketch or technical drawing.
Can create a more efficient production process: As you iterate on your design, you may notice elements in your prototypes that aren’t necessary or that may be prohibitively difficult to manufacture. By identifying and optimizing or eliminating these elements, your final production process can be faster and more cost-effective, providing bottom-line benefits that can be passed to suppliers and your end customers. With price being a key driver for consumers, this benefit shouldn’t be underestimated.
Can aid in manufacturability: As you optimize the design of your product, it’s important to be aware of best practices for the final production process you plan to use. A 3D prototype can help you determine, for instance, if “wall” sections of your product can or should be thicker or thinner, or if hollow areas are in danger of collapsing. Prototyping for manufacturability can help lower your production costs and reduce the number of part rejections.
Can help identify potential production problems — prior to production: Production problems, such as part rejections or improper design, are among the worst things that can happen to your product. The lost time and lost material and equipment costs can be significant, and can make an enormous negative impact on your bottom line. Spending extra time and investment in prototyping is more than worth the effort in light of the potential risks.
Can provide an unparalleled replication of your finished product: Throughout the development of your product, as you iterate and refine its look, feel and functionality, the question that’s likely to remain at the forefront of your mind is, “Will it work?” Functional prototyping gives you the answer to that question — and the broad range of prototyping options available today make it easier than ever to produce a functional prototype at a reasonable cost, with fast turnaround times.
What Types of Consumer Prototyping Does RevPart Offer?
RevPart’s consumer prototyping services cover every need described above, providing the benefits of a high-quality prototype. We offer a wide range of services to meet any prototyping requirement you may have.
3D printed consumer prototypes can get your part to you quickly, and our range of base material formulations means that we can replicate a broad cross-section of production metals and plastics via 3D printing. 3D printed prototypes are suitable for almost any phase of the production process, from initial concept and design, through to pre-production. For fully functional, same-material prototypes, other services are available — many of which 3D printing can assist you with successfully.
Injection molded consumer prototypes are an ideal way to produce a short run of final-material prototypes, giving you a very close sense of your product’s look, feel and functionality. While many shops won’t accept short-run or prototype-quantity injection molding orders, at RevPart, we specialize in them. We can also use our molding capabilities to produce high-quality injection molds that provide the durability necessary for short part runs.
Much like injection molding, many facilities don’t view CNC machined prototypes as a valuable use of their equipment. RevPart reserves our CNC machining equipment for prototype quantities, allowing you to gauge the manufacturability, speed and costs of your final production process — in addition to producing a final-process, final-material prototype.
The RevPart Difference
The RevPart difference for consumer product prototyping is our expertise in the area, our dedicated specialty in prototyping, and our ability to assist and facilitate every step of your product development process. We’ve spent years gaining experience in areas that most other shops can’t or won’t provide to entrepreneurs and manufacturers, such as CNC machined or injection molded prototypes. We offer years of expertise in 3D printing and rapid prototyping, and are ready to offer our expertise to help you create your best possible consumer product.
Contact us today to learn more.