In early-stage prototypes, I find it faster to buy things, rather than starting from scratch.
I recently bought a $50 electronic bill mechanism from a pop machine and used it as a proof-of-concept, rather than designing it from scratch. Designing from scratch would have taken a week and probably $1000 in materials.
Ultimately, we would end up designing custom parts, but prototyping with existing stuff is faster way to prove a concept.
Let's say I'm designing a carrying case for a device:
We could start with sketching an aesthetic Create flat patterns Find sources for fabric Find zippers, pulls, buckles, etc. Buy a sewing machine Spend a week fighting with the sewing machine because it's not up to the task
Or: Go on Amazon, spend $500 on a dozen bags.
Bags with different styles of straps. Various storage compartments. Different materials. Different sizes. Bags with different stitching techniques Strength comparisons. Time is our greatest asset in development.
I couldn't make all those samples in two days. They are usually the best money spent on the project.
After I'm done analyzing and testing the prototypes, I'll tear them apart, and use them for a custom prototype. I'll use the fabric to stitch together a new bag. I'll steal the buckles and zippers for my reference library.
I'm always looking for ways to shortcut my prototyping process. Hit reply and let me know if you want any help on prototype sourcing or brainstorming.