What is the purpose of prototyping?
The aim of prototyping is to create a method of quickly testing assumptions.
As discussed in Design Thinking you are trying to test your ideas as quickly as possible, learn from the test and then improve your design.
Depending on your product industry different tools and parts are helpful to create prototypes. We have the philosophy of spending the money to buy a quality tool which lasts. So here is a list of some of our favourite tools.
- Prusa i3 3D printer – an amazing asset for prototyping
- 150, 300, 600mm Shinwa ruler – quality chrome ruler
- Tamiya Modeller’s Knife Pro – sharp and reliable
- Laser cutter – used with AutoCAD and Illustrator
- Scotch Roll on adhesive tape – one of our best finds, great for quick adhesion
- Starrett combination set – accurate for life
- Bondhus Allen key set – reliable and robust
- Bahco Adjustable Spanner – simple reliable design
- Felo Chrome-Moly Bran-van screwdriver set – highest quality set
- Knipex Pliers set – excellent for 3D printed part manipulation
- Irwin Vice grips – great hand-held clamps
- Small file set – a must with 3D printed parts
- Lie-Nielsen chisels – quality chisels for wood and plastics
- Dormer Drill set – accurate and quality
- Starrett Centre punch – remains sharp for a long time
- TXH canvas tool roll – a great way to store tools
- Makita battery Drill – must for prototyping
As for parts we have found it very useful to order a range of small sets of parts from eBay, this is great when you are testing new designs and are looking for a small screw or spring. Here is a list of the essentials in our kit:
- Set of small screws - eBay
- A range of springs and spring wire - eBay
- Cardboard in different thicknesses – local art supplier
- Set of circlips - eBay
- Set of O-rings - eBay
- A range of magnets - eBay
- Tapes – double sided tape, masking tape, duct tape
- Glues – Acrylic glue, 3m spray adhesive, wood glue, super glue, epoxy
- Leather offcuts - local leather store
- Plywood in different thickness - local supplier
- Foam of different thickness and density - local supplier
- Cast Acrylic – local supplier
- Polypropylene sheets – eBay
- Don’t make it look perfect, just make it so you can test your hypothesis. As a designer this is hard and, in the beginning, we often fell for this mistake and wasted a lot of time.
- If you have a physical product buy a 3D printer this is a very quick way to create an accurate prototype.
- Use the most suitable material for your test. For example, don’t print a small male thread using an FDM 3D printer, use a metal screw and design your 3D printed part around the metal screw.
- Make your prototype to scale, you will often quickly realise if something will work or not when you make your prototype to scale.
Hope this helps you get started on your next great idea!