“Prove it.” It’s a simple, two-word phrase that every engineer has heard from a client. It’s usually uttered right around the time the engineer has finished presenting a design idea to a client.
These two words could bring a project (and an engineer) to his or her knees. That is, until rapid prototyping came into prominence.
Rapid prototyping — a technology that allows engineers to quickly and efficiently produce three-dimensional prototypes — has changed the entire prototyping business. Today, if an engineer knows about and has access to rapid prototyping, it’s possible to prove the viability of a concept before a lot of time and money has been invested in one specific design.
Here are five additional things every designer needs to know about this rapidly developing technology:
It can eliminate costly errors
Clients aren’t the only people who want perfection. Everyone who works on a specific project — designers, production engineers and marketers — wants it to work. Rapid prototyping allows everyone to see the product early, which gives everyone more opportunities to identify mistakes and make improvements before too much time and money has been invested.
It can minimize engineering changes
Believe it or not, having more people see prototypes earlier in the development process actually helps minimize design changes. When people can hold an actual three-dimensional prototype, they can better express their ideas and needs. This leads to improved communication between teams, which minimize the number of changes that need to be made.
It can significantly reduce waste
In the past, wasted time, money and energy were considered a natural occurrence during the prototyping process. Today, every minute, meeting and dollar matter to companies. They don’t have the margins to waste anything, which is why rapid prototyping is so popular. It reduces material costs, the amount of time teams spend planning and production costs.
It can become the product
Believe it or not, rapid prototypes are so good that they often become the final product.
It allows engineers to say “okay”
The next time a client says “prove it,” engineers can be confident they will.