Online Manufacturing for Metal parts and Plastic Parts, XTJ Precision Mfg Ltd

Mobile: +86 17704021786

How to Prototype a Product Quickly?

Rapid Prototyping

How to Prototype a Product Quickly Step by Step?

Prototyping during the product development process can answer many questions that might arise on the road to committing to a final design. The prototypes themselves can be simple or complex, depending on which questions need answering. Building prototypes can avoid costly mistakes later on during product manufacturing where design errors become expensive to correct. A rule of thumb is that a change during the design phase that costs a dollar will cost a hundred dollars to fix in production. For this reason, prototyping is considered to be a fundamental step, or sequence of steps, in most product development efforts.

Prototypes can be loosely segregated according to what insight they provide into the final product. Form prototypes give physical expression to the shape of the finished product. Fit prototypes gauge how the finished product might feel to a user or verify the internal constraints of mating parts. Function prototypes could be used to test how the product might work under environmental extremes, or to ascertain if it will last for the duration of its proposed lifetime. A prototype does not have to be an actual physical model; much activity takes place in the world of virtual prototyping.

An important aspect of prototyping is the way in which the prototype lends itself to testing. Such tests can include product concept tests, proof of concept tests, virtual prototype tests, alpha and beta tests, and preproduction tests.

Product Concept

Product concept prototypes usually serve to demonstrate the form and shape of the finished product to potential parties of interest. Usually, little to no effort is put towards defining the inside of the model (think clay models in the automobile industry). Form prototypes are often prepared for this stage, with the idea of evaluating a product’s exterior (Does it look dated? Are the sizes and proportions correct?) Finishes can be mocked up at this stage which might have bearing on the final materials selected for use in a housing, for example.

Proof of Concept

Proof of concept prototypes may not resemble the physical form of the final product at all. These are instead intended to validate that the product will work in the manner expected. Prototypes involved in proof of concept testing are usually of the functional variety: the materials used to build them and the manufacturing methods employed in making them may differ considerably from those used in the final production product. Specialized testing equipment is often employed. A packaging designer, for instance, wanting to develop a new peel-able seal, might use a variety of pull testers to determine the seal strength between various materials to assist with selecting a suitable choice for production.

Virtual Prototyping

Much is gained through the application of solid modeling and finite element analysis to evaluate how parts might interfere with one another in an assembly. Data can be used to analyze the stress that parts will undergo while operating, and changes can be made during the design stage to lengthen the time to failure. Virtual prototyping also plays a role in product concept development as realistic 3D renderings are readily created and the data easily imported to rapid prototyping printers to create form models – albeit non-functional ones – of finished designs.

Alpha Tests

Alpha testing is the first stage of final product testing, usually conducted on a prototype made in its intended final form, using similar, if not identical, materials as intended for the finished product. Manufacturing procedures for the alpha tests will usually differ from those used for production as the volumes are much lower. For instance, plastics involved in alpha-test prototypes might be machined while, for the production version, they might be molded. Alpha testing is typically conducted internally.

Beta Tests

Beta testing usually takes place on prototypes built from the final production materials and using the same manufacturing steps that will be used to make the final product. Unlike alpha testing, beta testing will often involve the input of end-users and this input is used to make last-minute changes to the product, the production process, etc. before the product is released to production.

Preproduction Tests

Preproduction tests are conducted on final products identical to the ones that will be sold to customers. Some small modifications may still be made to manufacturing processes, design, etc. based on the results of these tests; hence, they can still be considered prototyping tests. Organizations such as UL (for electrical products) and the CPSC (for children’s products) test these finished “prototypes” before granting their marks of approval.

Prototyping Services

Inventors and product developers seeking help in producing prototypes have at their disposal all manner of expertise and services. Some vendors specialize in particular kinds of products: toys or circuit boards, for instance. Others are set up for making prototypes from various materials, such as acrylic or nylon, or as sheet metal fabrications. Still, others cater to specific industries, such as automotive or aerospace. There are as well many firms that specialize in product development and handle many phases of the endeavor, including prototyping of, for instance, consumer electronics. Makers of custom products, such as sewn goods, can often be called upon to manufacture prototypes.

Given the popularity of additive manufacturing, it is wise to remember that this field was once known as rapid prototyping, and it still yields many opportunities to quickly and economically produce small numbers of prototypes. Design changes can be quickly implemented in 3D printing. The process is well suited to producing form and fit models; function models built in this manner can still be challenging as the additive materials will not always emulate the characteristics of the materials ultimately used in the production parts. There are many such firms offering these services.

Testing Processes

Prototyping can be thought of as a sequence of steps that moves a product along the development path from conception to creation. The process often doubles back on itself as new information from prototype testing sends designers back to their drawing boards. There are many areas of interest to be considered during the prototyping phases, including product usability, manufacturability, and safety. Some products, such as food or drugs, require rigid test plans for FDA testing. Firms that specialize in developing such products can be helpful in boosting inventors over these various governmental hurdles.


XTJ is a leading OEM Manufacturer that is dedicated to providing Prototype a Product Quickly manufacturing solutions  from prototype to production. We are proud to be an ISO 9001 certified system quality management company and we are determined to create value in every customer relationship. We do that through collaboration, innovation, process improvements, and exceptional workmanship.




Make the best product possible with the help of our international team of experts. When you’re ready for a project review, contact us for a free quote.

Contact Form Demo (#3)