How to Create a Cheap Prototype for Small Businesses
If you are launching a new product and you’re a small business or entrepreneur. Then you can’t afford to make any mistakes – especially if it’s your first product that you’re using to launch your start-up. Manufacturing, marketing and distributing are all highly expensive investments. If your product doesn’t work or doesn’t appeal to your target demographic then it’s crucial that you know this sooner rather than later and don’t pour large amounts of cash into a project that’s doomed from the offset.
And one of the best ways to quickly find out whether your product has legs. It needs to be tweaked for the best performance if it does at all is to create a prototype. Without actually holding your product in your hands there’s only so sure you can be. But when you’re able to properly examine it and test it in person you will have a much better idea of how well it works. Where there’s room for improvement and what it will actually be like to use. And this is even more useful when you start looking for testers or using focus groups.
How to Create a Prototype
While you may recognize the value of a prototype though. Many small businesses don’t realize that options now exist to allow them to cheaply hold their item in their hands. While this was once an expensive process, however, prototyping is now actually very easy and affordable for even small businesses with few resources.
Do it Yourself:
The first and most obvious method of creating a prototype is simply to try and build one yourself with makeshift materials. For more complex products this won’t be an option. But if you are creating something that uses readily available materials. Then you can easily try and create that yourself in a makeshift manner.
Use 3D Printing:
For those items that are slightly more difficult to produce, or for a prototype that will be more presentable for beta testing, another cheap and readily available option is to use 3D printing. 3D printing allows you to ‘print’ three-dimensional items in a
variety of materials ranging from plastics to ceramics to metals. Almost any design you can think of can be replicated cheaply as a ‘one-off’ using a 3D printer. It can be assembled from single parts and is not too large or complex. To create your own 3D printed prototype you will need to create a 3D model. Using CAD software and then use a 3D printer of your own or use an online service such as Shapeways.
If you aren’t confident to make your prototype or it is too complicated for 3D printing. Another option is to use prototyping companies and outsource the process. These services have come down significantly in price thanks to technologies such as 3D printing and in some cases. They will even be offered by your manufacturing contractor. It requires an upfront investment, but compared with manufacturing and marketing thousands of units that no-one wants to buy it’s a small price to pay!