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We take pride in developing in-house prototypes and if we’re being honest, this is one of the best parts of the work we do! Being able to move quickly from idea to physical component or assembly is a thrill that never gets old.
Prototyping comes in many shapes and forms. Like almost everything in life and engineering, a detailed understanding of the requirements are needed. Even with the stadardized terms below, we still produce some specifications for the prototypes we build. Here goes!
Different Types of Hardware Prototypes
Proof-of-Concept (POC) prototypes are mainly to prove that something can indeed be done. These can be extremely early-stage devices that aim to illustrate a process before many of the downstream requirements come on board such as user-interface, size, weight, material and texture come into play. These often employ breadboards, batteries, thin sheeting, 3D prints, clay etc. Once completed, these devices are used to prove a fundamental concept, show an investor or gain buy-in at some level.
Looks-Like and Works-Like Prototypes
In many cases, we need to divide the prototype into two separate models, basically 'how it looks' and 'how it works', also known as appearance and function.
At this stage you develop a prototype for the purposes of show and tell, whether it's fundraising or customer facing.
It is at this stage that final design-for-manufacture (DFM) becomes important as the device moves from prototype into production and thoughts on how to handle mass-manufacturing.
After the stages above, validation testing begins and we exit the prototyping stages. This will be covered in the future!
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