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Prototype Tooling and Its Importance in the Introduction of New Designs and Ideas

by Nice Rapid | Mar 15,2021 | Rapid Tooling

The phrase Prototype is coined from the Greek word “Prototype" which simply means something that was created. In simple terms, a prototype is defined as a model or initial sample of a product that has been built to test the functionality of the concept.

It’s a working model of a theory that has been put into action, basing on the prototype; the concept or the process is put under test to determine its viability or whether it can fulfill the intended desires and needs. In instances where the final product needs to be injection molded, the prototype also requires the use of specially engineered polymers per the product specification.


It's always very important to test a product before it hit the market, this is done to determine whether it's going to fulfill the intended purpose. The new design of the intended product has to be built to demonstrate to those in managerial positions or investors so that funds can be released for production to commence.

In most countries, the law states that the product must be tested based on its processes and representative materials to determine its compliance with the country’s laws and regulations. Depending on the time and resource needed to make the prototype, most businesses decide on the production timeline based on their organization's goals and objectives that will align with the development and direction set.

Prototype tooling will also enable the firm to cut costs as defects and flaws can be pinpointed before mass-production is finally rolled out. In case there are changes, it will be fairly easier to execute them and change at that stage of production.

Key factors that determine prototype tooling

The production quantity: The prototype tool used in prototyping usually comes with limitations especially when it comes to certain level automation as well as cavities. This will save a lot of the cost and time required for fabrication. Using an actual or original model will be exposed to the normal wear and tear. Your prototype should be set or created after the actual wear and tear of the original product is factored in.

Soft and hard tooling: Most prototype tools require materials such as steel or aluminum which are cut quicker when it's being processed. The lifetime of the prototype will be solely dependent on the material used. For the normal and actual process, you need durable materials which can be optimized for a longer cycle time. Hence, the prototype tooling must be chosen upon the intended purpose that’s being selected for.

Drawbacks of prototype tooling

Limited scope for analysis: Most prototype tends to focus on specific aspects, the result being other vital features will be overlooked. What this will lead to will be poor conversions of prototypes into the intended final product.

Confusion: Most customers confuse prototypes with the final end-product, customers will also think that the performance of the prototype will be that of the final product.

Most prototypes serve their purpose when their specification and usage are fulfilled within a specific time frame. Prototypes play a crucial role as they give insights and information about what the final product will be like.

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