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If you have invented a relatively simply product, you might be able to save thousands of dollars often spent by inventors on prototypes. When a new product is high-tech or an improvement to a working machine--such as a car--prototyping needs to be done in a series of stages. The first is the engineering stage. This is a rough prototyping stage. It's not unusual to see wires hanging out on the prototype. But, that's OK, this is the prototyping phase that proves the product works. These models may even be hand-crafted and take a lot of time to produce. Of course, in the long run, that won't be viable but it might initially be necessary. At this stage, inventors don't spend time or money on aesthetics of the product.
Next is the production prototype stage. Now the focus is on producing each part or subsystem of the invention. This stage should begin to utilize all the assembly tools and methods that will likely be used when the product is produced on a mass scale. Some parts of the product's exterior are incorporated such as panels and paint. Any flaws that develop are continually addressed before the next stage can be launched. Then, the finishing phase of prototyping incorporates final manufacturing methods as well nearly all aspects of the product.
If the product cannot be produced on a mass scale at the price selected, more work has to be done. Then, in the last phase, items like packaging are addressed as well as concentrated testing of many manufacturing batches.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|