Is Prototyping Worth the Investment?

Monique Daranyi, February 28 2024

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While prototyping is an investment in time and money, the returns can far outweigh the costs.

We frequently create models that allow us to test and refine our designs throughout all stages of the design processes. From simple block models to assess form or mechanical details, through to fully functioning presentation “work’s like, look’s like” samples. Prototyping allows us to test every detail at every stage allowing for valuable feedback from key stakeholders that can improve and validate the final design prior to manufacturing.

However, before embarking on prototyping, it’s important to consider how to use it effectively.

Here are 5 ways you can use prototypes to boost speed and efficiency throughout the process:

3D sketch models for early visualization

  1. In the ideation and concept phases, use a 3D sketch model to communicate and evaluate size, form, and ergonomics. This helps stakeholders visualize the product early on.

Proof-of-principle rigs for feasibility

  1. ‘Rough and ready’ proof-of-principle prototypes help test the viability of functional parts and verify concept feasibility in an efficient way, before proceeding to detailed design development.

Works-like prototypes for functional testing

In the design development phase, focus on refining and testing the functional or mechanical details of the product through focussed, working prototypes.

Looks-like prototypes for appearance validation

Once a direction has been set for the size and arrangement of internal components, create a looks-like prototype to mimic the final product’s appearance – without needing to integrate internal mechanisms or engineering details. This is crucial for evaluating the product’s aesthetic appeal.

Pre-production prototypes for final validation

Before manufacturing, use a working pre-production prototype that accurately represents the finished product, including all manufacturing and assembly details.

Want to know more?

Tone is a London based creative product design agency. If you’d like to talk to us about what we do or tell us about a new project, send us an email at:

[email protected]

We’d love to hear from you.

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