Sure you can do it, but the probability of success increases with the number of attempts. This applies to most things, but certainly to product development. You will probably need several prototypes before you have a final product. Yes, one prototype might be enough, if you’re lucky to get it right on the first try.
In a product development project, it is important to work with prototypes in the correct way in the different phases of the project. This to ensure concept, quality, function, design and more. You will also reach the goal faster. You will save both time and money.
With the right strategy for prototypes, you will reach the goal sooner.
The task of the prototype
There are no “best practices” on how this should be done. At Dalelven, we have shaped our prototype strategy from many years of experience of product development. When used correctly, prototypes become effective tools for successful product development projects. They are important and should be given priority in the projects.
The idea behind using prototypes when developing products is to minimize mistakes early in the process, evaluate points for improvement and ensure functionality. You reach a final product of the right quality faster. Prototypes confirm that you are on the right track. Concept, design, function, and quality, as well as how it will be produced and assembled can be ensured in the right phase of the project. You don’t save the big surprises for later, which means delays and increased costs. Instead, changes at an early stage are usually small and problems can be evaluated and fixed early on. The project moves faster, and the final product reaches the market sooner.
Over the years, Dalelven has received several customer assignments where we have to remedy defects in products. Many times the flaws have been found when the products are already ready to be released. In the worst case, it is their customers who find them when the product is already on the market. Often they have used prototypes to evaluate design and function but missed verification of the products when they are tested over time.
The most common mistake is that prototypes is given low priority and enters too late in the process. It also means that any shortcomings are discovered late. When the product has reached this stage in the development process, all product changes means project delays with increased costs as a result.
We have also seen examples of when it is basically the first prototype that then becomes the finished product. They have had a forced schedule and have neglected testing and verifying the prototype due to poor planning and lack of time. They have gone straight from idea to prototype. The product has to get to market as quickly as possible, because they already have customers waiting. Therefore, they only did a few tests. Everything seemed to work and the product was released before it was properly tested. The ability to be first to market was more important than product reliability.
It can work, you can succeed on the first try. But it can also end up with a bad and expensive product, dissatisfied customers and lost sales.
Dalelven’s prototype strategy
At Dalelven, we have excellent conditions for working with prototypes in our projects. We have a modern prototype and test center, which is fully equipped with, among other things, 3D printers, EMC labs, machines and test tools. Here, our experienced prototype technicians work with the manufacture and testing of prototypes. The fact that everything is in-house shortens our lead times and enables effective collaboration between customers, project managers, product developers and prototype technicians.
Our prototyping techniques are an important part of our successful way of working for product development. They have extensive experience from manufacturing prototypes which they then carefully and systematically test. Their knowledge and work becomes a quality assurance of the product.
We take overall responsibility for product development from idea to finished product or parts of a project such as just the construction, design or other. It’s when we’re involved in development projects from start to finish that our prototyping strategy really pays off. Because we are already involved in the concept and design phase, we use a prototype that we call a functional prototype (mockup). We use it to test ideas and functionality at an early stage. It doesn’t look like much and can be limited to only one function. In this way, we get a direct answer as to whether the idea and design behind the product holds up and we can move forward faster in the development process.
In the actual development phase, additional prototypes are manufactured in parallel with construction work. Now the prototypes look more like final products. The reason why the work takes place in parallel is to get early answers to material selection, design, function, durability, wear and much more. In this way, we avoid unnecessary mistakes. This means that there are often several prototypes during the project. With the help of several prototypes, we don’t have to go back too far if errors are discovered during testing and the project instead moves forward efficiently.
Prototypes are also used to optimize the product for production and assembly, what works in theory must also work in practice. Furthermore, tests are also carried out on how the product is used, which is the basis for both certifications and user manuals.
At Dalelven, we use prototypes to reach the end result as efficiently as possible, saving both time and costs for our customers. The strategy of using multiple prototypes is included in the project plan from the beginning and ensures that we hit the mark well in advance of the deadline.
OUR SERVICES FOR PROTOTYPES, TESTING AND PRODUCTION
Dalelven have machines and tools for manufacturing prototypes. We build prototypes in all shapes and materials, through e.g. milling, welding, 3D printing, sheet metal processing, injection molding, surface treatment and programming.
Based on the requirements for the product, tests and verifications are carried out, through e.g. EMC tests, environmental tests, test rigs, load tests, abrasion, material tests, strength calculations, moldflow and usability.
Dalelven also produces and assembles products in smaller series. As part of our product development, we optimize products for assembly and production. If necessary, we contribute with our network and experience to select external suppliers.
Do you want to know more about our Prototype & Test Center?
Get in touch with Marcus Kullman, or one of our project managers.