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Rapid Prototyping Design Thinking

We have already looked at the stages that are used in order to create a product. It is very clear to see that prototypes are some of the most crucial parts of these stages, as they allow us to test our design in the real world and to check whether our choices of materials and production techniques are correct. However, a prototype does not necessarily have to be something that you can manipulate and feel; it can be a drawing, a CAD file or anything that allows you to visualise the item that you are offering and its use in practice and at any stage of production.

Initially, it is likely that your prototype will be a very rough design that is sketched on paper and then produced by yourself out of easily available materials. It may even be a single part of what you want to create, depending on the size of the item and the available space and equipment that you have available. This because building a prototype is all about bringing a theoretical idea to life and ensuring that it can function as you envisage. Not undertaking this can be the death knell to your project and it may be that the idea that you started with is very different from the one that you end up with because of the information you gain from the initial prototype. It is important not to become fixated on your original idea or design and to be open to change in order to create a better product!

It is generally the case that we can become absorbed and taken over by our ideas to the detriment of our customers who are the end users of our product. It is critical to use design-related thinking to continually question our design and ensure that what we are producing solves its initial purpose whilst at the same time being what the end consumer actually wants. Not being true to this philosophy is a huge waste of time, money and resources and all for the sake of not producing a couple of prototypes to judge expectations. Producing prototypes throughout the design process ensures that we can see the product from our customer’s eyes and allows us to keep our eyes on the ball all the way to final production. 

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