When you are making something new or difficult or complex, it’s a good idea to first build a prototype. A prototype is basically the real thing but typically made with cheaper materials or experimental elements. It’s the first model. For example, prototype circuit boards are usually made from a plastic material that are fully functional but not as expensive as the regular PCB fabrication process requires. Prototype printed circuit boards can be made very quickly and efficiently in order to find out mistakes and obstacles that need to be overcome before making the actual product. This is the way with all prototypes. It’s a way to find out what is wrong with the product without having to sell it and have the consumers be the ones to find the defects. Prototype circuit boards are just one example of a product that benefits from prototypes. Here’s some other reasons why prototyping is a good idea.
- Early Detection
As mentioned in the paragraph above, prototype circuit boards as well as all other kinds of prototypes give the engineers the opportunity to allow the product to fail early and cheaply. There is always a risk of failure so by building a prototype first, you can use it for early detection of approaches, techniques, materials and methods that do not work properly. Then, you can replace them with ones that do. Testing products is much less expensive than selling faulty ones and having them returned.
- Budget Planning
By building a prototype, the manufacturer is able to see why kind of requirements are really necessary. A lot of money is wasted during production because of rework when a product fails. However, if you plan for a certain amount of failure in the prototype phase, then you aren’t out any money that you hadn’t anticipated.
- Visual Assistance
Many times, companies will undergo a focus group or team building exercises in order to pull together the product before it is even made. For example, when building prototype circuit boards, there may be a team of engineers that draws up plans on a computer software program in order to have the prototype circuit board built. However, for some people and some products, it’s a lot easier to be able to see the product in order to determine what needs to be done. You can’t just build the actual product and waste money just so that people get a visual reference point; that’s where prototypes comes in handy.
- Understanding Problems
Having a prototype helps you to see a problem fully. Things turn out much differently in your mind than they do in real life, so while something may work or function in your mind’s eye, it could be very different once the product is actually made. Prototypes are useful for seeing the product in its true light and understanding any problems that may come with your ideas.
- Conflict Resolution
In the designing part of the process, there are usually several great engineers involved with all kinds of fantastic ideas. However, not all of these ideas are ideal for the product that is being made. If the engineers are not able to agree on one method, they could manufacture several different prototypes and see which one works best and let the product speak for itself in deciding which method or technique is the one to use.
- Better Product
More than any of these reasons, the reason to build prototype is to make sure that the product is the very best that it can be. If there is room for improvement, a prototype will find it and it can be properly implemented. When a product is in mass production, it can be easy to overlook small flaws. But, those small flaws could end up costing you a lot of money when people bring them back. It’s better to figure out the flaws in the early stages and use those experiences to make the product better and improved before even getting it out on the market.
There are other reasons that prototyping could be beneficial to a product but not all products need prototypes. There are some that can be put out in the market without that initial prototype, but for complex and usually electrical appliances, a prototype is a very good idea.