10 Essential Prototyping Tools to Prepare Your Product for Presentation

Creating prototypes is a great way to present your work in progress to your team. However, without the right prototyping tools, you may end up pushing your project back if making your model takes too long.

Without seeing a realistic version of your product, you can even end up scrapping a great product because it doesn't seem viable!

When your team can see a functional or lookalike prototype, it's easier to gain feedback and buy-in for the next iteration. But creating physical prototypes don't have to be expensive or take a long time.

Check out these must-have prototyping tools and let your inspiration take shape!

1. SubDivFormer

The first step of creating your minimum viable product (MVP) is bringing your 2D sketches into a 3D environment.

Free prototyping tools are the best option for early in the design process, and this free iPhone and Android app is an excellent substitute for expensive CAD software. With this tool, you can quickly form and transform a model to bring your product to life. 

Models designed in SubDivFormer can be directly sent to a 3D printer. This can remove some steps from your iterating and help you see issues with your prototype before your presentation. 

2. eDrawings

This all-in-one design tool is a great way to create early iterations and garner feedback from your whole team.

The intuitive interface allows you to design multiple pieces and see how they fit together in a CAD environment. You can even share your prototype files with other team members who don't have access to the app!

Augmented reality features let you picture your prototype in your environment before you spend money creating a physical prototype. This makes it easy to scale your model and design the right size in relation to real life. This powerful UI prototyping app is a must for any design team. 

3. SketchUp

Those looking to turn drawings into their first realistic model will love SketchUp. The free version of this software is a great tool for new CAD users to create a prototype from a sketch or using the extensive 3D model library as a jumping-off point.

If you're designing the first few versions of your product, this tool is a great way to create an inexpensive model to start rapid prototyping. In one click, you can easily print your prototype and get started on your product creation journey. 

4. Fusion 360

The Fusion 360 app is a robust tool that offers a realistic view of your new product. It combines CAD, CAE, and CAM tools for a powerful design experience that helps you take a big step toward a viable prototype. Taking the next step with additive manufacturing is easy using this app.

This prototyping app supports over 100 file types, so it likely works with the tools you already use in the office. Plus, sharing designs between your computer and your phone is simple. You can even share it with your executive team to gather feedback directly in the app!

5. Kramer KRC Reality Viewer

If you're looking to present how your product looks in different environments, the Kramer KRC Reality Viewer is a fantastic presentation tool. This free app lets you show your team and prospective buyers in augmented reality. You can even click on different parts of your product to show practical product information, offering a self-led demonstration. 

From here, it's easy to 3D print your first lookalike prototype and show off how the item works in person. This free tool can save you substantial time and money on rapid prototyping.

6. Etoolbox Mobile CAD Viewer

This powerful app is a product designer's dream! If your product requires detailed specs and design features, Etoolbox Mobile CAD Viewer is the tool for you. This tool is great for layering and showing off the full functionality of your new product's design. 

With an extensive suite of 2D and 3D design tools, the possibilities are endless. Plus, this free Android app integrates with a ton of third-party tools to offer an all-in-one solution for your design team. 

7. Blender

Blender is one of the best free prototyping tools available. This open-source creation program is perfect for taking your designs to the next level and getting them ready for the printing process. Motion tracking and video editing capabilities can help step up your presentation before printing. 

One of the benefits of Blender is easily making interlocking parts. Seeing how the parts work together is an integral part of later stage design, and this product helps you create models that are ready for physical creation.

Cover every step of the prototyping process in one free, easy-to-use program before you start fabricating show models.

8. CATIA

If you're looking for true engineering capabilities in your prototyping tool, CATIA is the way to go.

This impressive tool can help you create late-stage prototypes for products with advanced functioning needs for electrical and mechanical engineering projects. While CATIA is an advanced tool, this is a must-have for presenting how engineering projects will look and operate. 

Creating many physical prototypes in industries like aerospace, medical, and automotive can be prohibitively expensive. CATIA is designed for advanced CAD users to create presentations that get you the green light for the physical prototype design.

9. ProductPlan

Designing the physical prototype is only part of the process. To create a strong presentation, you'll need to ensure each aspect of the prototype is completed on time. That's where ProductPlan comes in. 

Project management tools are a must for any design project, and ProductPlan is specifically designed for managing rapid prototyping projects. This road mapping software can help track feedback and next steps for new prototype iterations. A functional management tool is an absolute must for any effective prototyping project, and this one gets the job done.  

10. LaTex 

Once you're ready to present your model, LaTex makes it easy to add a 3D model to a PDF.

Using this tool can make sharing your designs in a boardroom easier than ever. This free software is designed to make presenting your technical information a breeze, so it's essential for your next roundtable discussion.

Find the Right Prototyping Tools for Your Project

The best prototyping tools help get you to market quicker. Making a physical design isn't always the most cost-effective first step, so these useful tools can help you garner feedback and create a high-quality prototype before you send it to the printer.

Ready to start printing? We offer on-demand printing options that are right for your project. Get a quote today and be prepared for your next presentation!

 

What is Rapid Prototyping and What it Could Do For Your Business

3D printing is still a burgeoning technology, and its potential is only just starting to be unlocked. One of these benefits is the ability to produce test products quickly. This process has come to be known as rapid prototyping. 

Rapid prototyping can be huge for anyone charged with designing and launching a product. To help you see its potential, we ask the question "What is rapid prototyping?" below. 

What Is Rapid Prototyping?

Rapid prototyping is a new phrase. It is the process of creating prototypes in a quick way so that you can visually and functionally analyze a product for engineering purposes. It also allows you to test the product to some extent. 

The prototype is a preliminary version of the end product. You can use it to analyze, check, test, and improve before moving into a larger scale, final production. With the advent of 3d printing and many new technologies, these prototype productions are much more quick and effective. 

This can be at any stage of the product development process. It can be done for any component or subcomponent. Repeat prototypes can be easily manufactured with minor alterations, making them easy to refine.

What Is Meant by Rapid Prototyping?

Prototypes do not need to look and behave exactly as their final product will. As such, a designer may choose the quality of their rapid prototype depending upon their goals for it. These two types of distinct prototypes can be classified as low and high-fidelity prototypes

Low fidelity prototypes have minimal functionality and test concepts. They are a mock-up, to project a final idea. 

High fidelity prototypes are very close to the final product. They will look and behave almost as the intended final outcome. 

Why Is It Important?

In the modern market, new products and developments come thick and fast. In addition, they need to be quality products. The internet has allowed news of inferior products to spread quickly, and anything that is not fully tested can create bad brand awareness. 

As such, to deliver high-quality products quickly, rapid prototyping has become a necessity. There are a few more reasons why it is important.

Firstly, it allows hands-on user experience that can provide valuable feedback about the finished product. Secondly, it can allow functionality tests aligned with the final objective. Thirdly, it allows the final stage of a product to be verified against the company objectives and technical requirements. 

Factors to Consider

When undertaking a rapid prototype, you must give thought to a number of functions. This will help you determine the outcome and process of your prototype. 

First, consider the purpose of the prototype. Will it need moving parts or will it be a static part? Then look at quality, and decide if it can be low fidelity, or are you at the stage where it needs to be a high fidelity prototype?

Next, consider the quantity. How many of these do you need to make? This will be determined by how many prototypes you need, and how many of these parts are in each one. 

Then, consider the complexity of the parts. Will they require lots of intricate detail and moving sections? These could add to the time and cost to create.

Conceptual and Embodiment

Conceptual and embodiment are two larger parts of the prototype process that you must take into account. The first, conceptual, is where parts and assemblies need to be scaled up. You may also need limited functionality and, perhaps, some forms of the user interface. 

Embodiment is the phase at which form, fit, and function need to be explored. At this point, the prototype will be almost a fully-functional unit of components and will require high levels of detail. You will also need more than one prototype at this stage for rigorous testing, analysis, and feedback. 

Is It the Same as 3D Printing?

The two are different, though often confused as the same thing. This is because 3D printing was the first method of quickly producing rapid prototypes. However, it has now grown to include a number of other methods, and 3D printing is just one facet.

3D printing and similar additive manufacturing are the processes of building the prototype. The prototype is the end product itself. In addition, 3D printing itself could be combined with any number of other methods in the rapid prototyping process. 

Advantages

Rapid prototyping allows you to test ergonomics and human use factors on a product. They are also great for rapid feedback and adjustment during functionality testing. They can also reduce product development costs and risks involved in designing a new product. 

The disadvantages are that some key features may not be possible to rapid prototype, particularly overly complex parts. The range of material they can be made in is also limited, meaning strength and finish may not match the overall product. Some techniques are also still expensive and may require additional costs at the start of production. 

Starting the Process

Now you can answer the question "What is rapid prototyping?" all you need to do is begin finding a company that can help. Look for a firm that offers a range of prototyping options then contact them with your wishes and ask for a quote. 

We have a range of additive manufacturing processes that can assist you in building rapid prototypes. We have a qualified, experienced team who are waiting to help your project. Call us today for a free quote and get started on your next venture!


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