The beginning stages of product development are among the most crucial to any business. This is particularly true if the product in question is a physical one. Before the launch of any new product, a great deal of preparation goes into readying it for the general public. While there’s plenty of trial and error in both the invention and development stages of a product, there needs to be a tangible way of seeing the product in action. Building a working model is among the best ways to test a new product in real-world situations.
Rapid Prototyping & Product Development
For the uninitiated, rapid prototyping refers to a method used in creating a scale model version of a product, or a single part of a product. These rapid prototyping machines and applications rely on the use of 3D CAD data for fabrication purposes. This often allows designers and engineers to create working models of a product very quickly.
The Importance of Working Models
Every major industry has some sort of functional version of a product before its initial launch. The auto industry, for example, makes several working versions of a vehicle or product to test and re-test before unveiling an automobile to the general public. Additionally, computer manufacturers create several working models of new computing devices before they even bother with releasing a beta version of a product. Companies in the developmental stage of a product need to do the same for their products and services. This is crucial for both tangible and intangible products. At the end of the day, a quality product needs to work properly, be safe for general use and be visually attractive to the consumer.
Three Ways a Working Model Aids Product Development
- Reduces Trial and Error Situations—In the developmental stage of any product or invention, a certain amount of trial and error is suspected. But a proper working model of a product can go a long way in preventing unnecessary failures in the design, engineering and implementation process.
- Improves Product Quality—The quality of any product is only as good as the engineers behind it, and any good engineer knows that all products must be tested constantly. A working model provides a real-life example of how a product functions. Without this real-life environment, product testing is virtually impossible.
- Reduces the Likelihood of a Product Recall—The worst thing that could happen after a product launch is a recall. In many cases, recalls can be traced back to inefficient testing procedures.
The Future of Product Development
As has been made perfectly clear in this post, product development is the driving force behind innovation. The future of this practice is all about increasing efficiency in the development stages. In the coming years, we’re likely to see an increased focus on new prototyping techniques as well as more collaborative engineering processes. This will even include cooperative design with the customer involved in the process. In other words, the future is bright, but not without its own set of challenges.
The big problem with many of today’s companies is that innovation is not only expected, there is a lot of pressure from customers to deliver innovation quickly. Good ideas are simply not enough. A system needs to be put into place that ensures quality products are being developed and released quickly. This is among the biggest challenges facing modern businesses. The creation of prototypes for new products requires speed and creativity. The hope is that new technology will officially marry these two aspects of product development in a seamless way.