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11 Quick Tips for Rapid Prototyping + 1 Reading Suggestion

Updated: Mar 7, 2022

Just wanted to share 11 quick Prototyping Tips to help in your next project.

  1. Prototype quality should increase with confidence in design. Start with crude methods when ideas are not well formed. Transition to higher-fidelity models as the ideas become more defined.

  2. Prototype critical features early. Features can usually be tested independently of each other. Separate and prototype using appropriate techniques.

  3. Rapid prototyping does not equal 3D printing.

  4. Prototypes don't have to be pretty. A mockup with garbage can be used to quickly analyze size and weight. We once used several 12-packs of LaCroix to simulate the weight of an electronic console.

  5. Bench models should not be ignored. Build functional "works-like" models in parallel with presentation "looks-like" models to ensure mechanism or electronics are functioning.

  6. Prototyping in-house on your equipment might be limiting your creativity. Outsource prints when your in-house technology can't meet your testing needs.

  7. Prototype CAD should be hack-n-smash, not robust production CAD. We can't afford to invest time cleaning up a model tree if the idea is bad. We just need to get some geometry that can be output for prototyping. Everything can be rebuilt later, when the idea has been validated.

  8. Time is our best asset. Don't think in weeks or days. Think about hours or minutes. How quickly can we validate this idea? How quickly can we prove this idea has merit, or worthy of more time.

  9. Prototypes don't have to be 3D. A good concept sketch can unlock discussions that will change the course of a project.

  10. Learn faster by building more iterations. More learnings = more improvements.

  11. Don't take it personal. When someone attacks our prototype, it's because they want to see it improved. The prototype doesn't have feelings. Go ahead, rip it to shreds. The idea is what we're trying to improve.

Reading suggestion: Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull

I write a weekly email on rapid prototyping strategy. I'm excited to help you accelerate your next project.

Call me if you think we can help.


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