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How To Reduce Product Prototyping Costs And Reduce Time To Market

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It’s no secret that product development costs can quickly spiral out of control. Plenty of moving parts contribute to these expenses, and one of the biggest is often the prototyping phase. This experimental process is critical to ensuring that your product is viable and market-ready. And in most cases, it can set the difference between success and failure.

What Is A Prototype?

A prototype is a working model of a product or system that allows you to test its functionality, design, and other features. This can help ensure that the product meets all of your requirements and that there are no errors in the design. However, this phase can be expensive and time-consuming.

Fortunately, there are ways to minimize costs and shorten the product launch time without sacrificing quality. To give you insights, here are some helpful tips to achieve both objectives.

  1. Use 3D Printing

One of the most expensive aspects of prototyping is often the tooling and machining required to create prototypes. This traditional method can be both time-consuming and costly, especially if you need to make changes to the product design. Not to mention, the lead time for tooling can be several weeks or even months.

3D printing can offer a more efficient and cost-effective solution for creating prototypes. This innovative technology creates complex shapes and intricate designs that can be challenging to produce using traditional procedures. In addition, it’s much faster and more convenient, so you can get your prototypes quicker and start testing them sooner.

This cutting-edge solution has come a long way in recent years, and various high-quality 3d mesh software programs are now available. This tech trend produces a three-dimensional model of your product using a computer-aided design (CAD) file. Once the model is complete, it’s sent to a 3D printer, where it’s slowly built-up layer by layer. This process is ideal for creating small batches of prototypes or individual parts as it allows for rapid iteration.

  1. Simplify The Product Design

The more complex the design, the more expensive it can be to prototype. And with that, one of the solutions you can adopt to lower costs is to simplify the overall product design. However, this doesn’t mean making your product less quality or functional. Instead, streamline the design to make it more efficient to manufacture. And to put it simply, consider eliminating unnecessary features and focusing on the essentials.

You can also simplify the product design using a modular approach. This involves breaking down the product into smaller pieces or subsystems that you can test and evaluate separately. This method allows you to make changes quickly and cheaply without affecting the rest of the goods. This can be especially helpful during the early stages of development when you’re still trying to figure out what works and doesn’t.

  1. Go For Off-The-Shelf-Component

Designing and manufacturing every component from scratch might be tempting when developing a new product. However, this approach could take months (or even years) and may end up with you shelling out more resources.

Another way to reduce this cost is to use off-the-shelf (OTS) components whenever possible. That means utilizing standard parts that are readily available and can be easily integrated into your product. This approach is often used in electronics prototyping as it can be more cost-effective and time-efficient.

For example, suppose your company is designing a new smartphone. Rather than developing your own application processor, you could use one that’s already available on the market. This could help you save time and resources as you wouldn’t have to design, test, and manufacture a custom part.

  1. Consider Low-Cost Materials

The material costs can also add up quickly during the prototyping phase. To help you keep expenses down, consider using lower-cost materials if possible. For instance, if you’re designing a plastic enclosure for your product, you could look for and use an acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) substitute that costs less but still meets your requirements.

Furthermore, here are some crucial factors when choosing materials for your product prototyping:

  • Performance: How well does the material meet your needs regarding strength, durability, and other important factors?
  • Cost: What’s the price of the material, and how does it compare to other options?
  • Availability and Lead Time: Is the material readily available and accessible, or will it take time to procure? How long will it take to get the material, and how does that compare to other options?
  • Ease of use: How easy is the material to work with and fabricate?

These are just a few of the things to keep in mind when selecting materials for your prototypes. But you don’t have to compromise quality, though. In many cases, the cheaper material can still meet your preferences and perform just as well as the more expensive option. It’s about finding the appropriate balance between cost and functionality.

  1. Outsource To A Contract Manufacturer

If you don’t have the in-house expertise or equipment to create product prototypes, consider outsourcing to a contract manufacturer (CM). This strategy can be an effective way to get high-quality first models without breaking the bank.

When working with a CM, you’ll first require to provide them with detailed specifications and drawings of your product. They’ll then create a prototype based on your design. One advantage of this method is that you can use the CM’s knowledge and experience to improve the product design and reduce costs. Another benefit is that CMs often have access to cost-effective materials and components. They also have the latest equipment and technologies, which can help reduce prototyping costs.

With this approach, you can better focus on developing the product while leaving the manufacturing to the experts. Just ensure to partner with a reputable and well-versed CM that you can trust.

Final Words

Product prototyping is an essential part of the development process. For one, it allows you to test and refine the product design before moving into production. However, it can also be a costly and time-consuming endeavor. Keeping in mind the guidelines outlined above can be a good start in minimizing prototyping costs and reducing the time it takes to bring your product to market.



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