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Rapid Prototyping Your Designs is a Short-Term Expenditure with Long Term Gain.

An in-depth look at the real benefits of rapid prototyping, as opposed to the superficial costs.

Designers always try their hardest to cut costs during the design and development process – and this is understandable. If the product is too expensive to develop. The final price of the product might be too dear for end consumers to afford. Important to consider however is that there is a thin line between keeping costs low and delivering low-quality products to consumers.

By definition, rapid prototyping is the expedient fabrication of products and parts using a (usually) computer-rendered 3D model. By nature, these models are rendered additively – meaning that materials are added and formed into a single finished piece. There is a unique distinction between high-fidelity rapid prototypes and low-fidelity prototypes with the former closely resembling the intended finished good.

Now, alongside many other things, rapid prototyping requires that designers be dedicated towards quality assurance.  Due to its reliance on trial and error until the final design is reached, designers need to be patience as they embark on the long, sometimes arduous journey to the finished item. On that same note, it also requires patience – the patience to receive constructive feedback and act on it as part of a repetitive loop, until a polished design is reached.

Moving on, rapid prototyping is, in itself, a stage of the manufacturing process. It is perhaps one of the most crucial. Ironic then, is that many designers and companies go in to this phase half-baked.

There are some noticeable gains to incorporating rapid prototyping service as part of the design and manufacturing process. There definitely is an added cost to carrying out rapid prototyping, but, as the title of the article says, it results in a higher quality product. In more specific terms, here are the various advantages to rapid prototyping your designs before launch.

1.It gives a premonitory idea of the possible design flaws in the product: Every idea works flawlessly in theory. In product design and manufacturing, practice greatly differs from theory. It is not until designers begin to create that cracks begin to manifest in the metaphorical walls – meaning flaws in the design implementation.Hence, another great reason to develop a prototype is to test the functionality of the idea. One never knows the design issues and challenges until efforts are directed towards transforming mental ideas into concrete products.

  1. It allows designers to iterate and test a variety of materials and material combinations: Many designers understand that the vision usually differs from reality when it comes to selecting materials for use in a new product. The design prototype look serviceable with a particular material but following prototype fabrication, reveal functional drawbacks in the selected material. Different materials have inherent properties, strengths, and weaknesses that set them apart from others, meaning that there are certainly scenarios where it is best used and there are other situations where it falls short.
  2. It gives everyone involved in the process (including you) a solid platform on which to build the finished product: There are many aesthetic and functional design considerations that go into one product. Rapid prototyping makes it such that every factor can be better accounted for. This means that strengths in the design can be reinforced and weaknesses mitigated. Having a physical model allows designers, using a more consolidated approach, to comprehensively analyse the design and work out the overall aesthetic of the finished product.

  1. It allows for a lower failure rate: Products and parts, usually, are manufactured to provide optimum utility to whomever purchases them. Manufacturers do not enjoy having to recall their products because of functional and durability flaws. The design and prototyping process is the perfect time to address weaknesses that could result in such an undesirable eventuality. There isn’t a perfect product, but great ones are designed to withstand extended use and last as long as they are expected to.

The saying “penny wise, pound foolish” applies holistically to rapid prototyping. It is an investment towards the future of a product. A lot of the time, the success or failure of a product is greatly dependent on whether or not it is properly designed – and proper product design has rapid prototyping as a cornerstone.

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