The Ultimate Goal of Prototyping (and the Importance of Design Iterations)

By admin

Design iterations (or prototypes) allow us to work out all the kinks in a product before it is complete. No new product gets completed without some hiccups or bumps along the way.

Some testing is as straightforward as taking a product or device and trying it out to see if it actually works. Other times, it can be a very nuanced and complex process that identifies tiny issues that end users may never, and usually should never, notice.

The design iterations or prototypes SGW Designworks develops during a project are the way these kinks are identified and worked out — whether it’s trying to get a plastic part to come out of a mold just right or identifying a mechanical problem that prevents a device from working right.

Prototypes represent an ongoing process and a significant part of what SGW Designworks does. Yet, this is just one-way testing is used to help clients find solutions to a variety of problems, and to help get the ideal solution for a product.

Validating One Piece of a Product

In some cases, a single mechanism can be set up on a test rig. A frequent practice in the SGW Designworks shop is to build functioning subsystems that are critical to the final product’s success and testing them extensively to see how they work. This is a part of the usual prototyping process, but it is also a way to recreate known problems on products that have already been developed.

During the Voltaire Smart Grinder project, the team’s first test involved only the grinding mechanism. The team built a custom stand which was then outfitted with a grinding mechanism and a motor. After hooking the system to a power source the team was able to test the motors, the belts, and the grinding mechanism without having to worry about any other part of the product.

By isolating a single part of the product, special focus is given to important components. Even if there are no problems, design iterations may show opportunities to optimize or improve performance. Sometimes a mechanism can be simplified. Alternatively, it may be discovered that additional work needs to be done to make this singular component work.

This individual component validation can play a key role in product success whether it is a new product or an improvement made to an established product.

Preparing the Final Product

Another type of testing that is very important but often goes under the radar is testing materials, finishes, and texture patterns for final products.

If a cosmetic component is designed to be made out of copper, it could be beneficial to get that component in a couple different finishes to see how the different finishes look and work. A matte copper part will look different from a brushed copper part, and this difference could make a huge impact on the final appearance of the product, the customer’s satisfaction, and end-users’ feelings.

In some cases, a product or part may go through several design iterations with the materials already chosen. However, when it comes to making the final product, the materials it was originally designed with may not get the desired results.

Another area where this type of testing is crucial is in the fabrication of parts. Injection molded parts do not always come out of the mold looking exactly the way they were designed. Sometimes, a cosmetic blemish on the part can be so severe it becomes a structural issue. If the part is too thin, or thick, or if the material is not filling the mold right, it can mean the mold or part needs to be reworked to get the desired results.

In past projects, SGW Designworks has worked with fabricators to work out kinks on components before they are produced in significant quantities. It would be a big mistake to allow a part that has not been optimized to reach a final, or even near final iteration with errors since they can be more costly to fix later in the process. Worse, if the part does need to be reworked during optimization, it can adversely affect how it fits in the final product.

To learn more about the different types of design iterations and feature validation SGW Designworks engages in, get in touch with our team to learn more.

Featured Projects

You Might Also Like

The Cost of Prototyping a Product

Updated 8/1/22 Prototypes serve an important role for companies developing new products. When developed and used properly, prototypes can...

Have a Project in Mind?

Let’s Get Building!