Prototyping Services

Prototyping services create a model to show your product idea. Discover different methods of prototyping and average costs to develop prototypes.

Prototyping services are used by the majority of businesses that produce physical products. Prototyping allows you to create a basic model of the product you want to sell. There are many different reasons to create a prototype. If you are seeking funding from another source, it is common to make a prototype to show to potential investors. Prototypes are also helpful during the development stage. It gives you the opportunity to look at your product before major production begins. This is a good way to spot any potential flaws with the product.

Prototypes fall into one of two categories, throwaway and non-throwaway. Throwaways are intended to act as a temporary prototype, but major changes will be made before production begins. Once you advance the project, the prototype is thrown away and replaced with a new one that accurately reflects the final product. Non-throwaway prototypes remain the same throughout production, but small changes may be made to the product line upon release.

When is Prototyping Used

Prototyping is used whenever a company produces a new, physical product. While it was always popular, even more companies are creating prototypes due to technological improvements, which greatly cut down on cost and materials. Architects commonly use prototypes when designing new buildings. In the automotive industry, car companies create prototypes to highlight both new parts as well as cars. In the medical field, complex machinery is first presented as a prototype. Defense contractors often produce prototypes to sell their products.

Rapid Prototyping Services

While there are only two categories of prototypes, there are many different ways to manufacturer prototypes. The first method is rapid prototyping. During this process, the prototype is created using 3d printing. This is one of the most popular methods of creating prototypes because it allows you to create custom pieces for your product. Thanks to advancements in 3d printing technology, it is also cost effective.

Another benefit of using 3d printing is getting files for all the different pieces. If you need to make any changes to the final prototype, you can go directly into your saved files and make adjustments to each individual part without having to recreate the whole prototype. This technique is commonly used for throwaway prototypes, since it is common to go back and make changes to each part during the production process.

Patchwork Prototyping

Patchwork prototyping is considered a subcategory of rapid prototyping. Instead of creating your own unique models for 3d printing, you create a prototype using open-source prototypes. The biggest benefit is cost, since open-source resources are free. These prototypes are almost always throwaway, since most final products end up needing custom parts.

Digital Prototypes

Digital prototypes are similar to rapid prototyping, but lack a physical product. Digital prototypes act as high-quality blueprints, showing designs of the type of product you want to produce. Using the right software, you can create interactive prototypes, which allow you to see all the parts of the prototype. These prototypes are commonly used during the initial design phase, with multiple designers presenting their prototypes so the company can choose which one will be used for the next phase.

Pen and Paper Prototypes

Not all prototypes use the latest technology. The most basic way to make a prototype is pen and paper. Pen and paper prototypes are throwaway, often acting as a basic blueprint before a non-throwaway model is made. These prototypes are sometimes used on more expensive products, where companies want to minimize prototype costs until they are ready to produce a non-throwaway model.

The downside is, due to the basic nature of these prototypes, there is nothing to interact with. Drawn prototypes work best when there is minimal moving parts with your prototype. They are often used only for internal use, as investors are significantly less impressed by drawn prototypes versus physical products.

Drawn prototypes are also sometimes used in conjunction with other models. This is common with large final products. Instead of producing a to scale prototype, a miniature version is produced, with the drawing showing the full-sized product. For example, an architect firm would produce a model version of a building, then show a larger drawing to emphasize the size of the final product.

Cost and Finding Prototyping Services

The cost of creating a prototype greatly varies based on the complexity of the product. The more materials involved in the product, the higher the price. Because they are less detailed, throwaway prototypes are less expensive, costing on average between $500 and $1,500. Non-throwaway prototypes are around $3,000 to $10,000. Prototyping companies rarely offer a flat rate, instead providing a quote based on the complexity of your product.

While many companies prefer to make their own prototype, there are many development companies to choose from if you want higher quality prototypes. One of the top prototyping companies is Xometry. Xometry allows you to create a basic prototype on the website, getting an instant quote on how much it costs to produce a physical prototype. another general prototype service is nTopology. Customers can use the nTop Platform to create their own 3d models, which are turned into physical prototypes.

If you produce medical products, CollPlant specializes in bioprinting. CollPlant also provides open-source medical products to help with 3D printing. Another specialty prototyping company is Mighty Buildings, which creates architectural prototypes.