Before it was that cool new product you just couldn’t wait to buy, it was a working prototype. So exactly what is a prototype? Simply put, a prototype is an early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from.
Prototyping serves to provide specifications for a real, working system rather than a theoretical one. Ah, okay then. So do you need to have a prototype of your idea in order to bring it to market? Yes, and anyone who tells you different is taking you for a ride (the not fun kind).
It is really simple folks, a licensing entity or manufacturer does not move forward without a prototype, and they never will. Ideas don’t magically turn into new products, nor do patents. Every new invention has to be developed and vetted. You accomplish this with your prototype. It is tested, it’s held, you demo it, again and again in a multitude of environments. Only then, after timeless attempts to show proof of concepts will the prototype evolve and move towards the final product for which it will become.
For you entrepreneur types, it is important to understand they different types of prototype and how they evolve. Here are some tips from Wiki: In general, prototypes will differ from the final production variant in three fundamental ways:
- Materials. Production materials may require manufacturing processes involving higher capital costs than what is practical for prototyping. Instead, engineers or prototyping specialists will attempt to substitute materials with properties that simulate the intended final material.
- Processes. Often expensive and time consuming unique tooling is required to fabricate a custom design. Prototypes will often compromise by using more variable processes, repeatable or controlled methods; substandard, inefficient, or substandard technology sources; or insufficient testing for technology maturity.
- Lower fidelity. Final production designs often require extensive effort to capture high volume manufacturing detail. Such detail is generally unwarranted for prototypes as some refinement to the design is to be expected. Often prototypes are built using very limited engineering detail as compared to final production intent, which often uses statistical process controls and rigorous testing.
Got it? I hope so. So please don’t kid yourself and think you are going to cut corners on your invention and not prototype. You are going to. You have to. And you know what, it just might be some of the most fun you have while pursuing your inventing dream!