When you have a new product idea that you’ve been mulling over for months or years — mentally designing it, tweaking concepts, playing with features and functions, and perfecting your vision — you’re ready to jump right into it when you make the entrepreneurial leap to making your product a reality. Working off all those built-up ideas — and passion — can be a big help in making your first product-development experience comparatively easy.
Product prototyping is a key component of the new product development process, but it’s much more than something that you just “should do.” It’s intended to move the manufacturing process forward, improve the product, and ensure that your concept meets its full potential. If you go through the prototyping process without gaining greater insight into your product and how best to manufacture it, it’s difficult to call that process “prototyping” at all. In that situation, it’s just a box to be checked off, at the expense of your valuable time and money, with no return on your investment.
Prototyping is one of the most important steps in the product design and development process, and in many ways, it can be the linchpin of your product cycle. Consider that during the prototyping phase, you are actively bringing your product through from concept to reality — the prototype is what bridges these two bookends. Prototyping is likely when you’ll learn the most about your product, because so many questions will be answered — how does it look and feel in a real 3D form? How easy or difficult was it to produce? Is it structurally sound? Is it feasible to move to production?