How to Create a Product Prototype

How to Create a Product Prototype

In the first article in this series, Michael Bredemeier, Co-Founder and COO at Little Toader, explained how to bring a prototype to market. In this second installment, he tells Small Business Trends about the steps involved in creating a prototype.

Putting the right team together is important right out of the gate. Here are five steps to create a product prototype.

How to Create a Product Prototype

Find Reliable Partners

Bredemeier starts by telling small business owners about the need to find reliable partners who have expertise in a variety of different areas.

“For example, we quickly learned we needed a knowledgeable and trustworthy full-service freight forwarder to help navigate the complicated and unpredictable shipping business,” he says.

Keep Things Simple Through the Idea Conception Phase

You’ll want to keep things simple through the idea conception phase, Bredemeier said. This part of the process looks simple at first, but that’s not always the case.

Bredemeier explains what can happen if this important part of the process gets out of hand.  He stresses a good understanding of what your target market really wants will help to simplify the design.

“For example, molding a one-color silicone product is very simple. Once you decide to add a second color, it is significantly more expensive.  You may have to go from injection molding to compression molding, or molding two separate parts then combining them together.”

Focus on Flair and Functionality During Creative Design

“If you build it they will come.” This quote from the 1989 movie Field of Dreams applies to this stage, but with an important addition. Even if your prototype is very practical, most consumer products need to catch the end-user’s attention.

“If you are not the artistic type,” Bredemeier says, “ make sure you have someone artistic involved in the design phase.”  He also suggests that you keep a balance on the artistic side and get someone with a mechanical flair involved too.

“You don’t want to go too far down a path that may be creative, but also incapable of being manufactured economically.”

Mold Your Technical Design Properly

Safety standards, especially where children’s toys are concerned, need to be carefully considered at this junction. You also need to test to be sure your design can stand up to the rigors of use and that it functions properly.

One wrong move here can cost you big time. A worthless mold can set you back anywhere from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars.

Keep Revisiting the Specifications Throughout the Process

Tweaking your prototype where needed as you move through the other steps is critical. You should be continually revisiting product specifications as you go through the creative and technical phases.

“Once you have finished the creative and technical design phases, make sure your product specifications coincide and agree with your designs,” Bredemeier says in conclusion.  “In our process, the product specifications will outline precisely how the product is to be manufactured, which must be the final step before moving on to production.”

3D Prototype Photo via Shutterstock

Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. He is a graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Journalism degree. His print credentials include employment with various Toronto area newspapers and three works of fiction: The Apple Lady (2004), Creekwater (2006) and Sophistry By Degrees (2008) published by Stonegarden Press In California.