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Understanding Prototype

What do the right video inventions have in common? They have all been thru or were prototypes or test models before they set their name in the history of mankind. I hope that it will inspire you to explore the possibilities in your ideas and concepts for making life more enjoyable, exciting and also inspire future designers.


Definition of a Prototype:

A prototype is an early sample or model built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from. It is often used as part of the product design process to allow engineers and designers the ability to explore design alternatives, test theories and confirm performance prior to starting production of a new product.


Basic prototype categories:

1. Proof-of-Principle or Design: Is used to test some aspect of the intended design without attempting to exactly simulate the visual appearance. Model will be tested to identify which design options will not work, or where further development and testing is necessary.


2. Form Study: Models are often hand-carved or machined models from easily sculpted material like urethane or polyurethane foam. These models are intended for the exploration of size, look, feel or ergonomic of the intended product


3. Visual Prototype: design aesthetic and simulate the appearance, color and surface textures of the intended product. These models will be suitable for use in market research, executive reviews and approval, packaging mock-ups, and photo shoots for sales literature.


4. Functional or User Experience Prototype: This type of model allows early assessment of how a potential user interacts with various elements, motions, and actions of a concept. It has an unfinished appearance, but has enough internal detail to allow installing some of the internal components, mechanisms and/or electronics and is used to verify the earlier design intent.


Conventional Prototyping:

Conventional Prototyping is the calculative category where most conventional prototyping processes fall. These would include machining processes like milling, turning, grinding and foam, clay, paper or plastics models. This group in general is usually handmade and need expert craftsmen or machinist to fabricate. A typical prototype could take days or weeks to complete.


Rapid Prototyping:

Rapid Prototyping can be any of a variety of processes which avoids tooling time in producing prototypes or prototype parts and consequently allows (generally non-functioning) prototypes to be produced within hours or days rather than weeks. These prototypes are frequently used to quickly test the product's technical feasibility or consumer interest.

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