What Are the Different Types of Prototypes?

If you have an idea for an exciting new product, don’t wait to start bringing it to life. Your idea could transform a market, solve a common problem, and make many lives easier.

Plus, you could make a pretty penny on your patent alone.

To bring your product idea to fruition, you’ll need to make a prototype. A prototype is a model of your idea that demonstrates its basic form and function.

Even for a small business, prototypes are an essential part of new product development. Keep reading, and we’ll tell you all about the different types of prototypes and how they work.

Physical Models

One of the most widely known kinds of prototypes is the physical model. A physical model prototype is a rudimentary model of how your product will be put together.

These can be 3D printed, stuck together with cardboard and duct tape, or made out of any other materials you can find. Physical models don’t have to work, they just have to show your design plan.

This is one step of creating a prototype that pretty much anyone can do. Architects often build small models to demonstrate what a finished building will look like. This is a common example of a physical model prototype.

Proof of Concept

Proof of concept prototypes are also physical models, but they serve a different purpose. A proof of concept prototype is there to prove that your idea could work.

A proof of concept model is made out of existing products and materials. It doesn’t have to be as fully functional as a finished product, but it has to prove that the basic mechanism of your idea makes sense.

These models are also used to estimate how much it will cost to create your product. They typically won’t leave the lab, but are vital to the development process.

Working Prototypes

When you’re nearing the end of the prototype process, it’s time to make a working prototype. A working prototype is fully functional and allows you to test your product and make any necessary changes.

Because a working prototype is not a final product, its elements do not need to be set in stone. You should leave some room for flexibility when you build your prototype.

A working prototype doesn’t have to look pretty. That step will come later. Your top priority with these models should be complete functionality.

Factory Samples

A factory sample is the last step of making a prototype. Also called a pre-production prototype, a factory sample is made by the manufacturer.

Factory samples allow you to figure out what final tweaks you’d like to make to your product before you have it produced on a mass scale.

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You can also show a factory sample to potential customers to gauge interest before manufacturing begins.

Master the Types of Prototypes

Now that you know more about the different types of prototypes, start bringing one of your ideas to life. The better your prototypes are, the easier it will be to eventually sell and manufacture your product.

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