What is a functional prototype?
A functional prototype is a sample of a product that is created to test and confirm its feasibility, performance, and manufacturability. For example, when producing a mobile phone, the screen’s display and key sensitivity need to be tested. This term is mainly used in product development but is also used for software programming.
Functional prototypes help identify flaws in the design process, enabling optimization and improvement of overall performance. This can avoid the need for redesign and manufacturing in the later stages of the production process, saving time and money. At the same time, it also ensures that the final product’s functionality meets specific requirements and expectations.
How to start functional prototyping?
Here are the basic steps to get started with functional prototyping:
Get a product idea and draw the sketch
First, you need to roughly know what product you want to do, and do market research. It helps evaluate your product’s value, target customers, and the competition you may face. Then you can put forward a targeted idea based on these characteristics.
You can draw a sketch for a simple representation of your idea or create a more detailed 3D model. You can also directly ask your supplier for help. Tell them your ideas and requirements, and let their designers help you draw the sketch.
Find a functional prototype manufacturer
B2B platforms like Alibaba offer a wide range of suppliers. Before building cooperation, you need to check the establishing time of the suppliers’ company, whether they take you seriously, and if they can professionally answer your questions related to products. Or you can find sourcing agents like Jingsourcing to help you make functional prototypes if you import from China. It will be cheaper than using your domestic resources like the USA, EU, etc.
Make a functional prototype
After you have selected the supplier that meets your requirements, it’s time to make a functional prototype. The materials used in this process should be as close as possible to the final product materials, which can make the test results more reliable.
There are many ways to make a product prototype. It depends on your product, requirement, and budget. The most common types are
3D printing. It has no restrictions on product shapes, and any unusual shapes can be created. It is commonly used for prototyping jewelry, toys, furniture, and more. This technique can use a wide range of materials, including plastics, metals, ceramics, etc. The cost of 3D printing can range from tens to hundreds of dollars.
CNC machining. It is more suitable for products with neat structures and stricter precision, such as metal parts. It can cut nearly all solid materials, from metals and alloys to wood, foam, and more. Its costs depend on the material used.
Vacuum casting. It is ideal for producing functional prototypes at low volumes. Many products with higher demands for precision like medical equipment and watch dials will use this technique to make functional prototypes. It is applied to metal materials, such as copper, aluminum alloy, etc.
Make the test
Then you can test the prototype. Different products have different testing requirements. If you want to make shoes, you need to test the comfort, such as whether there are problems with rubbing or squeezing feet. You can also check whether the shoes can withstand daily use and various environmental impacts through bending and waterproof tests.
If you have designed complex patterns on the shoes, you need to check whether the patterns are complete and whether they match well with the shoes.
Get feedback and refine your design
After testing, if any flaws are found in the prototype, it needs to be modified and improved until it meets your expectations.
Jingsourcing helps you create functional prototypes
As a leading sourcing agent in China, we have helped 4000+ clients source and customize products. Our professional agents are experienced in dealing with complex customization in different product categories. You just tell us what you want, and we can help you draw detailed designs based on your needs. We also have rich resources for manufacturers, and we all keep a good relationship with them.
We will produce functional prototypes according to your requirements and conduct corresponding tests. If you have other testing requirements, it is also OK. We will provide you with feedback on the test results and make adjustments according to your demands until it meets your requirements.
In addition to functional prototypes, we will also confirm the PP sample with you before mass production. At the same time, we will provide many value-added services such as quality inspection, cargo transportation, etc.
Maximize Your Design’s Potential with a Functional Prototype