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App Development: The Benefits of Functional Prototype Development

Functional prototypes are a great way to quickly test out user interfaces without writing a huge amount of code to test things out. However, if you haven’t been successfully using this solution to your problem, this post is going to shine a light on your dilemma.

 In this post, you’re going to get a deepdive into what are functional prototypes, how to create functional prototypes with the right tools, and what functional prototypes can/should not do for your design. By reading this post, you’ll gain:

Uses of Functional Prototypes

Functional prototypes are used in many industries today. Some examples of where functional prototypes are used are in machining, electronics, automobiles, industrial designing, computer science, and so forth.

Functional prototypes are building block technologies to solve problems or make things easier to implement.

 If you’re working in a business where a problem needs to be solved as soon as possible – whether it’s for manufacturing or computer science, a functional prototype can save valuable time, money, and resources.

Therefore, if you’re working on any type of functional prototype for any of these areas -CNC machining, electronics, or computers – you must understand how they work, why they work, and what the potential implications are for the production.

You need to implement a prototype

If you’re working on a new product for a client, you may need to implement a prototype very quickly to meet your timeline or have a quick turnaround on parts.

To expedite your turn-around time on these types of products, low-volume production runs, or prototype requirements, using a rapid injection molding machine can mean the difference between life and death.

 Rapid prototyping machines are a necessary component for doing this and even more essential when working on extremely low-volume products or simple side projects.

This is why I believe functional prototypes should be part of every manufacturing design.

But where designers and engineers often overlook functional prototypes entirely when working on more grand designs?

 In my experience, functional prototypes are often left out completely of the product development process, even though many highly intelligent designers and engineers realize the importance of incorporating them into designs.

The reason that functional prototypes are often left out is that they cost too much. In addition, large numbers of engineers and designers feel that their “blueprints” are sufficient and therefore, they don’t think it worthwhile to add a functional prototype to the product development process. This can be very unfortunate.

Understand the concept

It’s incredibly unlikely that anyone will produce a fully functional production line from scratch without a set of functional prototypes that they can use, build, tweak, and improve upon right away. Typically, an engineer or designer will begin working on a concept via computer-based design tools and prototypes using soft-touch or liquid crystal displays (LCD).

Once the design is finalized, an engineer or designer then brings the blueprints to a manufacturing facility for testing. Once approved by the few folks, a team of low-level workers will assemble the first production-quality samples of the product using traditional or soft-touch construction techniques.

The manufacturing personnel builds on those test samples using multiple materials – sometimes several – until the samples start to “break” and then get rejected as poor quality.

Drawing

After the testing process is complete, usually many engineers and/or designers go back to the drawing table with the original designer or engineer in the room to fine-tune the design based on the observations of the testers.

 Only then do manufacturing engineers order samples from FDM firms and ship them off to various test facilities around the world.

While the cost of functional prototypes might be higher than the cost of building a full-scale production line, the time saved by not having to create a full-scale production run is well worth the additional expense.

By eliminating the extensive time-to-market that must be spent during the design stage, functional prototyping proves to be an enormously cost-effective way of achieving innovative, cost-effective design solutions.

While the cost savings are a bonus, another advantage of functional prototypes is that they dramatically shorten the production cycle times.

Rather than having to create thousands of identical parts, which can add up to a lot of expensive production time, functional prototypes can be made much more quickly due to their relatively simple design.

 In addition, the machining and tooling costs related to traditional machining methods aren’t incurred when functional prototypes are used. This leads to significant cost savings during production and ultimately to significant cost reductions and profit margins for the end designer.

Conclusion

Overall, functional prototyping presents an excellent opportunity to validate and test innovative designs using an accurate and repeatable methodology.

As app developers strive to meet the increasingly complex requirements of today’s software market, it has become increasingly necessary to keep pace with the pace of change. With functional prototypes, that need no longer! It also provides an invaluable source of inputs by the end-users of the app and helps to ensure that the latest ideas and technologies are being utilized to produce the best products possible.

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