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What Are the Best Tips for Making a Mechanical Prototype?

Erik J.J. Goserud
Erik J.J. Goserud

Making a great prototype is an exciting time in the invention process, one which can light a spark of potential or put out a creative fire altogether. There are a number of things that should be considered while turning an idea or design into a tangible, mechanical prototype. Staying frugal with resources is among the most important. Remaining open to feedback is also crucial during this process. Creating a prototype that is hands-on or operative can ensure that feedback may be collected.

One huge mistake that many amateur or first-time inventors make is to use too much of their limited capital in the production of their first prototypes. Somewhere along the line, inventors get the idea that the process is design one or two prototypes, then it's on to the actual product. The reality of the production process is that many prototypes, sometimes tens or scores, must be developed before a product is perfected.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Its easy to see why capital can run low and how important it is to remain frugal when creating a mechanical prototype. Materials, labor, and time must all be managed carefully to be sure a mechanical prototype can be modified as necessary. The more money left at the end of the process for marketing and distribution, the better, and not too much time or money should be spent on prototypes unless it is truly necessary.

While it may be easy to understand why a prototype is tweaked so many times, specifically how it should be modified is more of a product of feedback. Feedback is an integral piece of product development. In the eyes of the inventor or those close to the product, the invention may be perfect or close to it. It's hard for a parent to see the obvious flaws in a child, which is why outside opinions are usually more objective and accurate. Feedback provides this outside opinion, which hopefully the reasonable inventor will use to improve the product until it reaches its potential.

Feedback cannot be gathered unless a product is transparent in function or interactive. It is therefore necessary to make a mechanical prototype of this nature. A prototype that just sits there doesn't give users the opportunity to critique it, but if the inventors come up with a feedback-oriented, mechanical prototype, they will be able to gain valuable insight into their products. Combining these principles is one way to give a product the best chance of survival in any competitive market.

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