Start the Plastic Prototype Development Process with 4 Key Considerations

The product development process is madproduct design product development prototype hardwaree up of many, oftentimes, complicated steps that will take you from concept design to production. One of the first critical steps for manufacturers is creating a production quality prototype – one that is made using the same design, process and materials as the intended end production part. Choosing an experienced prototype engineering partner that offers many services under one roof, can be one of the biggest factors in achieving your product goals on time and under budget. In addition to selecting a partner that can help you each step of the way, there are a few key considerations before beginning the development of a production quality plastic prototype.

  1. Keep Design Intent at the Forefront of Specifications: One of the biggest challenges for a manufacturer is in addition to creating a high-quality, long lasting product, is developing one that enters the market quickly. When taking this step into consideration, at times quality is sacrificed in order to meet time constraints. However, getting the part right can be a huge factor in the part’s overall success. Keeping design intent at the forefront of your part design specifications will keep production and manufacturing top of mind from the start of the process. Working with a qualified design engineer will provide the added expertise to help identify areas in the process where challenges will arise during the testing and production steps.
  1. Anticipate Tweaks: The prototype development process helps a manufacturer develop the first working model of the part in need. Upfront engineering can help reduce the number of steps needed to complete the production-ready part. Working with an experienced design engineer who can help you create a plan which includes anticipated tweaks, will help make the process easier, more affordable and ultimately will cut time between testing cycles. Additionally, choosing a partner that provides in-house sampling will keep information flowing from one step to the next, helping to avoid delays and unexpected costs.
  1. Be Involved and Document Each Step: There are many steps to the prototype development process and it is likely that tweaks will occur. Given this fact, it is essential that communication and findings be well documented. This information can play an important role during the production process or for future part engineering, patent and intellectual property protection. Keep detailed notes and make sure your design engineer partner provides all the necessary documentation to seamlessly take your part from one step to the next.
  1. Consider Keeping Prototyping and Production Under One Roof: Manufacturers have the choice between using various service providers to assist with the prototype development and production process, or choosing a partner that provides all services within the same company. When working with multiple providers, critical information can be lost from one step to the next. Relying on a partner that provides experienced engineer support, material selection, tooling, testing and production, will ensure information and time are not lost – helping to get your product to market faster.

There are many important factors to consider when embarking on the plastic prototype development process – especially when producing a part that is production quality. Keeping design intent in mind, anticipating tweaks, thoroughly documenting and partnering with a service provider that keeps the process under one roof, can all contribute to your project staying within the designated timeline and budget.

Are you starting a new production-quality plastic prototype project? What challenges do you anticipate as you begin the process?

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Author: Matt Sweeney

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