Prototyping – the first time you can see and feel how your finished product will be.
Once you have an agreed design and all your materials specified, it is time for arguably the most exciting part of the process – prototype or manufacture. This is the point where all those hours of sketching and discussion finally come to fruition with a finished product that you can review.
Where appropriate, we will create a mock-up or mule of your product so you can evaluate the functionality and re-assess the design as necessary. A mock-up is a scale or full-size model of a design, used for demonstration, design evaluation, promotion or other purposes. The usefulness of a mock-up can be summed up in this well-known engineering quotation:
“You can fix it now on the drafting board with an eraser, or you can fix it later on the construction site with a sledgehammer.”
If a client wants to get an idea of colour, finish and design details that cannot be easily visualised from the design drawings, then we can make a scale model mock-up for evaluation. Alternatively, it may be that the dimensions and proportions of the product need to be reviewed. In this situation we would create a mock-up using cheaper finishes and materials. The savings made by avoiding a big production run of a design that needs improvement often more than repays the cost of creating a mock-up. For example, we replicated large injection mouldings by CNCing polypropylene, which gave exact copies without the use of expensive tooling.
Our FastTrack Prototype Department, working with either client’s detail drawings or with our Development team, are able to quickly manufacture mock-ups, sample sections or full working aesthetic pre-production units. We aim in this process to reduce any queries or issues before we enter the production phase.
We can use traditional methods of prototyping methods such as joinery, metal and plastics processes, but also more advanced model making with services such as 3D printing or casting using our in-house casting processes.