Getting your prototype made is an integral part of the engineering process. You should make sure that you get the most out of your prototype by properly testing it.
Product Prototypes should help you improve the form, fit, function, and aesthetics of your product. The wide variety of benefits you gain from making prototypes far exceed its cost. Through product testing and market research, you will be able to gather the information you need to improve your product and give it the best chances of success.
Improving Through Product Testing
You should do your own testing on your product but also consider getting your product tested by a laboratory.
For some products, by law they must pass testing by a facility that’s approved with the corresponding agency.
For example, children’s products have to be approved by a CPSC approved laboratory.
Product testing should not only test if your product works as it’s supposed to, but also test the stresses, environmental hazards, and impacts it may go through in its life.
More thorough testing will allow you to pinpoint where a product’s potential flaws are and fix them.
Of course, your prototype will almost certainly not be perfect. Rapid prototypes made from 3D printing will not have the same finish as those made from CNC machining. 3D printed prototypes are cheaper, take less time to make, but also don’t have as clean as finish as parts that were machined for the most part.
Improving Through Market Testing
You should work to get feedback on your prototype from other people, unbiased feedback can have valuable insights.
The people should you interview about your product should be in the demographic of people that use your product. This is especially important for more niche items. For example, you wouldn’t advertise skateboards in the latest AARP magazine. Why? Because the age demographic of nearly all people who use skateboards is much lower than those who would read AARP.
Consider who is likely to use your product and come up with a plan to gather feedback using questions like the ones below:
- Do you think there is a need for my product?
- What do you like about my product?
- What do you dislike about it?
- Would you recommend my product to a friend?
- What would you change about it?
- How does it look?
- Is it easy to use?
- Does anything seem unnecessary about the product?
- How much would you spend on something like this?
Questions like these will help you gather a general consensus on what people will think of your product. Don’t just change your product off of one opinion, be sure to interview several people to have data to work off of.
Successful Product Prototype Improvements
With properly testing your product for its functionality and durability through testing, and by gathering data through market research, you should be able to quickly and efficiently improve your product and make it the best it can be to give it the best chances of success.
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