1. What is a Prototype
A prototype is the early release of a product made to test a concept or process or to act as a model to be replicated or learned from. This is the test case which includes all specifications of the given product. Therefore, we can check all specifications related to the given product, test it and can get feedback from users before making the final product. A prototype delivers the real working system instead of an idea. Prototypes divide into some basic categories, which are given below.
2. Basic prototype categories
Proof of Principle or Proof of Concept prototype
A proof-of-principle prototype provides the key functional aspects of the product but doesn’t contain all specifications of the final product.
A working prototype gives almost all or nearly all the functionalities of a final product.
This type of prototype only represents the size and appearance, but not the functionality of the given product.
User experience prototype
User experience prototype provides enough appearance and the functionality of a given product that can be used for user research.
A functional prototype
This type of prototype contains both the appearance and the functionality of the given product that can be created by different techniques and different scales before the final production.
It is a hand drawn or printed representation of the user interface of a software product. This type of prototype is used for early testing of a software product
3. Prototype needs and its importance
Making a fully functional prototype is by far the most important step for a production company before it manufactures the final product. This provides some significant benefits, which are given below.
The ideas and the real world are much more different from each other. So, there is a need to convert our ideas into real things. You can identify your ideas in real form.
Testing of design
Designing a prototype not only provides the design team with the capability of evaluating a design but it also provides the testing of the product before commencing the full production. They can examine their product and can get feedback from even the users.
Clarifying Production Costs and Issues
Before starting the final production, prototyping provides the chance for designers to take a brief look at the production process so that you can change, combine or even remove some steps. This step is not only necessary to revise the production process but also keeps the cost of the actual production to a minimum. It provides the minimum design risk.
Selling the ideas to others
By making prototypes, you can sell your ideas to others. Before making a prototype, your idea is only a concept, but the prototype provides the reality to your concept.
By making a prototype, you can take customers’ needs into consideration. No matter how great a designer or tester you are, some aspects of the product can only be given by customers. This can be made possible, only by making a prototype. If a customer doesn’t like some features of the product, you can change these features as customer demand and before making the final production.
There is a great need for a patent when you are producing an innovative product. This step is needed to legally guarantee that another company will not copy your design without your permission. If your design leaks, other companies can produce your design before you do, and this will have a bad impact on your market. So, the prototype provides the opportunity for you to buy the patent for your working product.
4. Prototype stages
There are several stages of developing a prototype according to the followings.
In this stage, the designer can simulate the user experience with enough fidelity to gets comments on the value of the new product. This helps to remove the users’ confusions or rejection of the device. This also provides interaction of methods and achieving the best solution.
This stage is aimed at providing various options to find the correct model design. For example, for an electronic PCB design, it identifies the risks of making the design, testing specific components, checking wire and sub-components and finally the design’s functionality.
Prototyping and testing
This stage provides the alpha prototype production, which is the fully functional prototype. It identifies the business risks and the cost of the product components. It also identifies product yielding and high-volume output.
This stage includes making the early small run pre-pilot production unit and the manufacturing of ready parts. During this stage, such issues as manufacturing process risks, color matching, surface finishing, business risks attached to the time of production of parts, components and assembling of the parts are identified.