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Prototype models help design teams make better informed decisions by obtaining invaluable data from the performance of, and the reaction to, the prototypes. The more data that is gathered at this stage of the product development cycle the better the chances of preventing potential product or manufacturing issues down the road. If a well thought out prototyping strategy is followed, there is a far greater chance that the product will be introduced to the market on time, be accepted, perform reliably and be profitable.

What is the best way to get a prototype made? The answer depends on where you are at in your process and what you are trying to accomplish. Early in the design process, when the ideas are flowing freely, concept models are very helpful. As the design progresses, a prototype that has the size, finish, color, shape, strength, durability and material characteristics of the intended final product becomes increasingly important. Therefore, using the right prototyping process is critical. In order to most effectively validate your design, pay close attention to these three key elements of your design: functionality, manufacturability and viability.

If your prototype can faithfully represent the attributes of the end-product, it is by definition functional. These requirements often include such things as material properties (e.g. flame resistance), dimensional accuracy for fit-up with mating parts and cosmetic surface finishes for appearance. If your prototype design can be repeatedly and economically produced in a manner that supports the requirements of the end-product, it is by definition manufacturable. These requirements include the ability to maintain the functionality of the design as described above, keep the piece-part cost below the required level, and support the production schedule. No matter how great a design is, it will go nowhere if it can’t be manufactured. Make sure your prototyping process takes this into consideration.

Finally, even if your prototype design is functional and manufacturable, it doesn’t mean anyone will want to use it. Prototypes are the only true way to verify the viability of the design in this sense. If your design can also pass the challenges
associated with market trials (e.g. trade show displays, usability testing) and regulatory testing (e.g. FDA testing of medical devices), you’re well on your way to a successful product launch.
 

Design, She Said

Renault is introducing the new Grand Scenic today, so we’re going to take this opportunity to show some sketches that were made by the Renault design team during the development of the new Scenic, a team headed by Agneta Dahlgren, Groupe Renault’s Head of Design for C-Segment and Electric Vehicles, who, incidentally, was named Woman of the Year 2016 by WAVE (Women and Vehicles in Europe) last week.

Not the Kind of Hybrid You Might Expect

Chances are, when you think of a “hybrid” vehicle you think of something like this, the Prius: Chances are really good you don’t think of something like this, a Class 8 drayage truck (a truck that moves cargo a short distance, such from a ship to a warehouse) from Mack Trucks: But that truck is actually a hybrid vehicle that Mack Trucks has developed and is testing, in a project led by the California South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.