If you’ve read our blog before, you probably know that we are huge proponents of prototyping. As an inventor, making a prototype is probably one of the most important, if not the most important, investments you can make in your product.
And with the options available today, from computer-aided-design (CAD), to rapid prototyping, to more traditional prototyping, there’s no reason that taking this step should be prohibitively difficult or costly.
While prototyping is important for both mechanical and electronic products, having a prototype for your electronic product can really increase your chances of selling your product to investors, if that’s the route you’re going. This is in addition to the primary benefit of having a prototype: making sure your product actually works as it’s supposed to!
There are some specific considerations to take into account when prototyping an electronic product as opposed to a mechanical one.
Invest in a digital prototype first.
This is a great idea for both electronic and non-electronic products, but it can be especially helpful when your product is electronic.
Because while some mechanical or non-electronic product designers can use these digital, CAD prototypes exclusively, that’s not the best idea for designers creating electronic products. Instead of relying exclusively on a CAD prototype, you want to make absolutely sure that your wiring, circuit boards, and/or touchscreens work in their physical manifestation, too.
So why not skip directly to that step? That’s certainly a possibility, but because digital prototypes are relatively quick and affordable to produce, it makes sense to address any immediately identifiable flaws digitally first. Then, when you get to making a physical prototype, you’ll be confident that your product is as flaw-free as possible.
Then make a physical prototype to see if your product will actually work.
You might be surprised by the number of great electronic product ideas that end up not functioning in the real world. They might defy the laws of physics; they might rely on technology that is too cumbersome or costly to mass-produce;
Once you get your physical prototype, pay special attention to the look and feel of your product. You want to make sure it will be intuitive for users.
Look, feel, and function are hugely important for any product – but with electronic products, there’s an even higher consumer demand for intuitive, easy-to-use products. If your design isn’t intuitive, you can be pretty positive that people won’t use it.
The user interface should be simple to understand and pleasing to the eye. Give yourself enough time to test the interface with multiple people – ask your friends and family to try it out and see if they can figure out how to work your product quickly.
If you’re producing an industrial or medical product designed to be used by people with specialized knowledge, seek out people in those fields to give your product a run-through. And then – this is the hardest part – listen openly to their feedback. Almost no one gets their product completely right the first time.
Plan on time to debug your product.
Debugging your programming can be a lengthy process, so make sure you give yourself enough time to test and fix any and every coding issue. Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to have another prototype made. Then you can re-test your product.
Hopefully, no further problems will arise and you can move on to the manufacturing stage – but if additional bugs do emerge, don’t be discouraged. Electronic products in general tend to go through several iterations before they’re finally ready for the market. You don’t think the cell phone was pronounced ready to manufacture after just two attempts, do you?
Prototyping an electronic product is a vital step in the creation-to-manufacturing process – perhaps even more so than with a mechanical product. There are many steps in designing and prototyping an electronic product, so hire help if you can’t do it all yourself.
At Pivot, we’ve developed, prototyped, and manufactured many electronic products. Unlike many firms, we’ve got designers, software programmers, and electrical engineers all in-house – and that means that we can handle every aspect of your electronic product development, including the prototyping.
Then, when you’re ready to manufacture, you can use Pivot’s electronic manufacturing services. You’ll be assured of consistent quality, as we use ISO:9001 and ISO:13485 certified processes, and we ship products worldwide.
Can we help you with your next electronic product? Contact us today!