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How to get a prototype made for an invention?

how to get a prototype made for an invention

Working Prototype: Who can help me make a prototype?

A prototype is a model created with an idea for a product, service, or system. A prototype is usually built during the testing phase of a project.

The purpose of a prototype is testing and learning. It is built when it is not known whether something can work or not, so all its resources must be directed solely to answer the question: are we right or not?

But how do i get a prototype of my invention made? How to test the validity of a project and assess its risks and potentials in a cheap, fast, and effective way? A good alternative is to think of a prototype of your idea.

We are not talking about those inventions of scientists in Hollywood films, but about a working prototype of their project that can be manipulated and effectively tested.

In addition to being an important tool to test your business model , the prototype can still be an important step to register the patent and monetize your idea, as we will talk about later. For now, let's start with the basics.

What is a prototype?

In general, we can say that a prototype is a model or idea for an invention built to test a product or a service.

It is the result of initial research relating to an idea or assumption and also a basis for further changes and implementations of that idea to be made.

To exemplify, let's think about a product: a new car powered by sea water. The prototype of this product does not have to be made in real size or with all the finishing details that would be used for the general public.

It can be done on a much smaller scale, perhaps for just one person, for example. Even so, with this first model, it is possible to detect which parts of the idea are working and which may need a revision.

Thus, it is possible to see if the business plan initially planned is going on the right path or not, without having taken great risks in financial or image terms - after all, a prototype requires much less investment than the production of the final products and the mistakes can be corrected without undermining your first brand credibility.

What are the benefits of a prototype?

Why would you create a prototype?

The low cost of manipulating a prototype facilitates the ability to make constant improvements to the tested model, until a model passes through the service of customers to begin to be formally developed.

In addition to a technical advantage - knowing if a product idea works and meets the needs of buyers - the prototype design also allows you to glimpse the first business model you will need to design to ensure that your invention bears good fruit: you will see it, on a small scale :

  • what is the first step to produce your product?
  • what are the technical and logistical challenges for it to be distributed?
  • what is its cost structure?
  • what is its value proposition?
  • and, of course, how the public will respond to what you propose?

We are talking about more assertive and less risky product idea design planning.

Test functionality

Materialization makes it possible to answer fundamental questions about the product. Does it work? May need to be adjusted? In what way?

Test usability

With the prototype, users test the idea, interacting in the way that competes. This is the first step and most efficient way to understand the points that work and what needs to be improved for the final products to be as user-friendly as possible.

Provide feedback

Just as it is possible to visualize and understand how people use the model (and how they prefer to use it), the prototype made allows users to give more concrete feedback about the product.

Reduce risk

With everything that can be tested with the prototype, the chances of launching a flawed product, or for which there is no demand in the market, decrease.

Decrease investment

It is cheaper to invest in prototypes and investigate flaws than to invest a lot of money in a final product that has not been tested.

What types of prototype?

Likewise, a prototype made invention can be a pilot or test event, and so on. Remember, for each business, a specific prototype, the model adjusted according to your business plan.

A common term when it comes to prototypes is MVP, that is, a “draft” of the final model design with only the essential functions, which reduces costs.

In other words, the MVP is also a prototype that can and must be constantly improved until the good product materials is placed on the market.

The tactic of jumping from an idea invention directly to its execution is not the safest. Launching a product on the market without verification is actually very risky. It may be that it does not work as intended, that users do not identify themselves, or that there is simply no demand. The best thing to do is to validate beforehand; one of the most efficient validation techniques is prototyping.

Prototyping - or the action of generating a prototype - is to create a representation that simulates the products design functioning of an invention. It is not necessary that the idea is at an advanced stage for this. In fact, it is possible to prototype even a product that until then has only one feature, or one type of interaction with the user.

In a project with several phases, it is interesting to manufacture a model in each of the steps that comes up with something to test. It doesn't have to be sophisticated; ideally, it should be very cheap - its function is only for evaluation. It is from there that product improvements will be made. So there is a high chance of failure, malfunction, or even failure of users.

How do I get my invention made?

How to create a prototype?

To start building prototype, at least a pencil and paper, or a computer. Depending on the complexity of your project, you will need a more sophisticated tool - software such as CAD, for example - for the first sketch before you start getting your hands dirty.

When we talk about products, to bring it to reality, we can use technological tools such as 3D printers: this equipment can produce small “sculptures” in a relatively inexpensive and functional way - the parts can be mobile and interact with each other like those of a final product.

It is also possible to prototype a service. To do this, just test your solution for a small and specific audience, controlling each step of the process.

In both cases, the prototyping process may seem incredibly laborious, but the intention is precisely that it is not.

Let's think about the alternative: direct production. Remember our example of a car powered by sea water? Imagine producing a number of these cars to discover later, when it was already in the hands of consumers, that some materials would need more resistance, for example. If you use a toy car and replace your electrical system with the one that allows the fuel you want, that conclusion probably comes sooner.

The idea of the prototype product design is to put it into operation and make small adjustments as the feedbacks arrive, with a certain volume. In the case of an online service, it is possible to go on fixing bugs and adding features. The validation process is recurring, so it is normal that it takes more than just a few months. Always be improving.

Who can help me make a prototype?

The Prototype mentality

It may seem easy to explain about how to create prototype, but creating one can seem like a meaningless task. In fact, it may seem a little strange to deliver an "unfinished" product to the customer. This “mindset” is very widespread among teams that use the design thinking prototype made methodology .

It is precisely from this type of “ existential project crisis ” that you must escape.

As stated earlier, a prototype is a learning tool, not a product! You create a model to test an idea with your customer as quickly as possible and improve it.

The art of prototyping

How to make prototypes? It is an art. And making mistakes in this step is very easy, that's why we have separated 4 tips that you should take into account to create a prototype that is really effective in the task of learning your team.

1. There is nothing that you cannot prototype

It doesn't matter how complex an idea may looks. It is always possible to create a product design of it. Ever!

You should always look at your project thinking about what benefit or problem it solves for your end customer. If you take this into account the task of building a test is much easier.

Draw a map of your idea invention.
  • Who are the users involved?
  • How do they find your company?
  • How do they use the service?
  • How does the delivery take place?
  • Is there any event after delivery of value?

Analyze the idea well, decide what should be tested beforehand.

Do you want to test the navigation of an application? Build a navigable prototype using Invision .

2. Don't fall in love with what you're building

The construction of a prototype product design must be fast. The longer the construction process takes, the more attached you are to it and it will become more and more difficult to discard it when necessary.

Before starting the prototyping process, you must have two issues well resolved with yourself:

1. Prototypes are built to be discarded. If you get too attached to him you will be reluctant to accept that the customer did not like him. We have heard phrases such as “The client did not understand” several times, if he did not understand he will not use it, if he will not use it will not do and should be discarded.

3. Remember the purpose of your prototype

This is the most important tip. Before building a prototype you must reflect: “what do I want to learn from it?”.

Write this on a wall in your room: we built to learn.

Your prototype does not have to be complete to be tested.

Your project can have several features, but include the most important ones in your prototype, test and then implement the improvements over time. This saves you from spending a lot of time building the first prototype and your customer from being confused about what you want to test.

4. The magic of a prototype that “looks” real

Make it look real. It doesn't matter which tool you choose to use. The customer must react naturally, the prototype must “fulfill the function”. You need to make sure that inventing an idea is not the problem, but what is important is to implement a smooth strategy.

Pretend that the product already exists and perform the basic functions manually. How well finished should a prototype be? The maximum for the customer to have a good experience.

Test the flow of features of your invention

  • Is there a point where the cycle doesn't close?
  • Is there any functionality that fails to reach its goal?
  • If yes and it is essential for the experiment, complete it,
  • if not remove it from your prototype.

The prototype must deliver value, whatever you decide. Focus on “wiping out” and delivering less complete functionality than many unfinished features.

The purpose of a prototype is to create a semi-realistic representation of something so that it is possible to interact and test with real users. Its main function is to identify products problems and opportunities for improvement long before refinements and implementation begin. Because it is an agile and efficient method, the creation of prototypes will help you to have more assertiveness and less refraction, saving time and money and making users more satisfied.

It is essential that a prototype is developed based on research, and then validated to answer whether it works as specified. For example, if you are designing an alarm clock application, the least that is expected is that it will wake up at the correct time, right?

Going from ideas to the practical part is always a risky step in any company. Prototyping can help you with that and we'll tell you why…

Having an idea for a project that will revolutionize the market, or for solving a problem in your company and seeing it work in the best possible way, at minimal cost, seems a distant reality for many companies, but you can achieve that , and prototyping is the key. for this, you can also find a prototype manufacturer near me.

Many ideas, throughout the development process, end up becoming financially unfeasible, they move away from the target audience (be it the consumer or the company itself), and they can still have risks and flaws that are not noticed before its completion.

At this stage, many tend to give up on their ideas, abandoning something that could have brought benefits to the company if it had been worked harder and in a practical way. And this is where prototyping appears to help you.

When creating a prototype for the possible solution to your problem or to put your idea of success into practice, you are faced with the opportunity to test whether it is really serving your purpose, whether it is working in all its aspects or if it needs improvement .

In addition, invention defects that were not visible are clear, and can be repaired in time, bringing greater satisfaction to the target audience

What is another way to build a prototype?

Let's imagine that you are part of a team that is participating in the design of a smart alarm clock application, which is activated only when you are no longer asleep. Now, let's imagine two different scenarios in which this project could happen:

Scenario 01: you generated invention ideas and went about developing the project, without any type of research, prototype or test, and the moment this application was launched on the market, users started to download it, but they realized that it did not work as specified, with a portion of failures, problems and complications.

Scenario 02: to develop the project you first researched, idealized, prototyped, validated with people and iterated enough times to reach a result that you were confident about consistency. When users downloaded and started using, everything worked as expected.

The above descriptions seem silly, but they still represent very common situations in the market. The first scenario could represent the daily lives of many companies that end up seeing themselves at a loss in the end, without knowing exactly what went wrong. In addition to the loss of time and money, there would be all the headache in overtime working to fix mistakes that could have been avoided.

In the second scenario, the chances of success increase dramatically, simply by choosing to validate the idea invention before simply going into the guesswork or hope design (which is when you design with hopes that everything will work out).

Why would you create a prototype?

Even with the examples mentioned above, I think it is important that we list more clearly what the real benefits of prototyping are. So here we go:

  • Help in defining the interaction design;
  • Test usage flows that are complex to view only in text;
  • Observe how a real user can interact with the products;
  • Receive feedback for good improvements;
  • Make these validations in a low fidelity preview before you need to refine or program, thus saving time and money;

Each person has their own prototype preference. Some prefer to use only paper, others HTML, PowerPoint or even something more elaborate made in InVision or Axure. I am particularly a fan of prototypes invention that are interactive and of medium fidelity.

Regardless, the important thing is to understand that the sooner you have a testable prototype in hand, the greater your chances of success in launching a product.

It is through the prototype that you can improve your ad infinitum project, in the vast majority of cases creating prototypes is cheap and time-consuming, with a very good return.

When do you need to create a prototype?

Prototypes should be created anytime you need to show or test whether something works as it should. What happens many times is they are considered useless by some smart guy who says "But this is so obvious, you don't need to build a prototype just for that".

The problem here is that a lot that is obvious to you may not be obvious to the user. Each human being has a different mindset and conception of the things he sees or uses.

You are not your user

Before you start creating your prototype invention, you must decide what type of prototype you are going to create. Of course, you don't have to limit yourself to creating just one type of prototype for the entire project, it depends on the demand, situation or type of validation you need at that moment.

When choosing the type of prototype you must take into account how advanced the project is and what level of loyalty you need to achieve. Sometimes we just need to test something simple that doesn't require a very elaborate prototype. The important thing is to stay focused on your goal and need.

You can create a prototype quickly and efficiently using any online tool, PowerPoint or even paper and pen. Take all the information you've collected so far (research data, insights, personas, journeys, sitemaps and wireframes), and start generating ideas from all of that, creating based on that data. And don't forget to always take into account what the goal of your project persona is and how you can help them solve their problems.

Let's see what types of prototypes you can work with next.

The conceptual prototype with 3D printing

The conceptual prototype is one that does not look like the final version of the product at all, visual details and the interface layout are not a priority.

What should be taken into account is the interaction and navigation flows. This type of prototype with 3D printing can look like anything and be made using any type of material or tool.

Conceptual prototypes are usually used at the beginning of a project in order to validate an idea or function.

Low fidelity prototype

It usually includes layout details and other tangible aspects. The intention of a low-fidelity prototype is to create in a fast and dynamic way a way to iterate and make quick changes to the most basic aspects of the product. It can be considered a superior version of a wireframe, the difference here is that it must be interactive and have basic functions that can be tested.

Medium fidelity prototypes

Depending on how advanced the project is, low fidelity may not be appropriate, especially if the team has already begun to refine the visual concept of the project.

Typically, a mid-fidelity prototype is a digital one, with the advantage that it can be easily shared online.

Medium fidelity prototypes are usually made from the middle to the end of the project, and in many cases are refined using graphics software such as Photoshop and SketchApp. It is also common to see professionals already working with HTML / CSS at this stage. It is interesting to start using graphic branding elements such as symbols, logos, institutional colors, brand or image bank images, etc.

This type of prototype is great for that type of customer or employee who wants to see more details about how their product design is doing. Sometimes it is much easier to show something almost state of the art than some sketches.

It is important to note that there are certain types of customers who don't need to understand what low-fidelity wireframes or prototypes are.

High-fidelity prototypes

This is the stage in which the entire visual identity of the product materials has already been defined, and the time has come to create something as faithfully as possible.

This mockup will be used not only for usability testing, but also as a guide for developers to start working on the product.

The high-fidelity prototype must be 99% similar to the final product and must be navigable and interactive, thus facilitating the work of developers and testers. in the whole process, 3d printing can help in perfect prototyping.

The process of creating a prototype

After deciding what type of prototype you want to create and choosing the tool, you may need to use a design method that is efficient and generates results. I recommend following these steps that resemble the Design Thinking process:

1. Empathize

Assimilate all the materials that was collected in previous stages of the project (research, benchmark, interviews, data, journeys, personas, wireframes, etc.).

2. Define and prototype

Take the paper and pen and start drawing and testing everything you think is cool. If necessary, create a digital prototype that is more interactive and shareable.

3. Iterate and refine

Validate your prototype with your team, test with users, receive feedback and begin the process of refinement and interaction until you reach a balance point.

A prototype usually starts small and grows as you add more details through the feedback received. This process is efficient and leads to success precisely for these details.

Final remarks

A prototype should work as specified, helping you and your team to define and validate ideas more assertively, in addition to saving time and money, as it is cheap, quick and easy to do, and may increases the chances of product success by be released.

Starting with paper and pencil is a great tip to get rid of all distractions and encourage the creativity and collaboration of the entire team.

If we could mention two main factors for someone or an organization to be able to innovate, it would be the ability to explore and to execute. Exploring the invention involves everything that precedes the creation of the idea and executing is related to everything that comes after the idea, such as prototyping.

It is necessary to explore in order to know in-depth for those who are innovating; what kind of problem, pain, need to solve. This constant search is essential to get out of common sense and pre-formatted ideas and start making new connections and arriving at ideas that can potentially benefit the other and are, in the end, innovative.

However, ideas are only thoughts if they are not carried out. That's when the prototyping part comes in. Being able to offer a solution that generates value for people is the biggest challenge, because only when we materialize our ideas do we find out if they really make sense, if they really meet a need and if people really would use it.

Therefore, next to every idea, there needs to be a prototype, that is, a physical representation of what is being proposed. Exactly because it is from the prototype that the author (s) and people can interact with the idea and build on top, so that, in the end, it becomes an effective solution to a problem.

In short: whenever you have an idea for an invention, prototype it. Create something tangible. Prototyping helps us to reflect on what we are thinking about.

And you, what design process do you use, and what do you think is most important when creating a prototype? Leave your comment and we will continue this conversation;)

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