An Ultimate Prototype Product Development Guide For 2022

Have you ever been in a situation where you had an ingenious product idea but didn't know how to make it a reality? You're not alone. In fact, many product manufacturers find themselves in this position while developing prototypes in their product development process. 

There's no question that product development is a complex and challenging process. But with the proper planning and approach, you can create efficient and effective prototypes.

Statista generated a report on the expenditure of new product development in China, which shows that "In 2020, the Chinese high-tech industry spent around 615.24 billion Yuan on new product development, which is 87.8% more than in 2019."

So, being actively involved in the product development process, China is spending vast resources in an attempt to improve their products - an indication of a better future!

This ultimate guide will show you how to carry out a prototype product development process from start to finish. We will also discuss its importance, several considerations, and approaches - Everything you need to know about prototyping in product development.

Without wasting any time let’s move forward and learn about the prototype product development process.

Prototype Product Development – All You Need to Know

Prototyping is an essential step in product development. It allows manufacturers to test different design iterations before finalizing a product for mass production.
 

Being a business owner or product manager, you know how challenging it can be to take a product from concept to reality. 

Going into mass production without first testing a product prototype is not only risky but can be costly as well. This is why prototyping has become an integral part of product development. 

Now we know, you must be thinking that what exactly is a prototype? Is it a working model of the product or just a visual mockup? 

Prototypes come in different shapes and sizes. While some prototypes are functional, others are just meant to test the visual design or ergonomics of the product - we will discuss all of this in detail later. 

Firstly, let's take a quick look at the primary purpose of prototyping in product development.

Related: Rapid Prototyping Factories in China

Role of Prototyping – The Main Purpose!

To understand the role of prototype product development, let's first assume going for a product launch without any prototyping. What will happen?

Imagine that situation; you don't know how people will interact with your product. There might be some design flaws that can result in user dissatisfaction and, ultimately, failure. 

What will you do then?

In short, nothing!

Because you already invested a lot of time, effort, and money in the development process, you can't go back now. Your entire inventory is now sitting in the warehouse, and you're struggling to get rid of it.

Ouch!
 

Now that wasn't a pleasant thought, was it?

But there's a way to avoid this situation - really!

And that's by creating prototypes!

According to an article published in Forbes, "There are five reasons why you should prototype your idea before going into production. The reasons are prototypes give you a sense of clarity, you can visually represent your product in the market, real-time feedback, easy scalability, and increases brand's trust and confidence."
 

Still, have some doubts?
 

Let us give you an example for a better understanding. 

An Example:

Suppose you have a product idea for a luxury watch. But you're not sure about the design, materials, or how it will work in real life. In fact, you can't even ask for the opinion of your target market because they haven't seen or used the product yet. 

Not only that, but you also have several questions continuously pitching in your mind like: 

  • How will it look or feel? 

  • What will be the market response?

  • Will this design be comfortable to wear?

  • What will be the estimated cost of production?


That's where prototyping comes in. It helps to address all these questions by creating a working version of your product idea - albeit with some limitations.

Prototyping in China is not limited to any specific industry. Anything you need from luxury watches to medical devices, you name it, and they will make it for you. 

Check out our latest read: Watch Manufacturing in China.

We hope now, at least to some extent, you have understood the prototype product development process - right?

Wait, we have a lot more to share - stay connected!

Understanding the 5-Steps of the Prototype Development Process

Creating a prototype is not as simple as it seems. It's a complex process that involves several steps, from ideation to final testing.

So, let's understand the 5 significant steps of the prototype development process. 

1. Market Research and Ideation:

Are you going to capture the market but haven't done any research yet? Well, that's not a good sign. 

Before starting the development process, you must understand your target market and its needs. After all, you wouldn't want to create a product that nobody wants to buy - would you?


Market research allows you to gather valuable insights about your target audience, their buying behavior, and what they are looking for in a product. 

Once you have that information, now it's time for ideation!

In simple words, ideation is the process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas. 

It's the first step of the prototype development process, where you brainstorm with your team and develop new product ideas. 

Make sure to involve as many professionals as possible in this process because everyone has a different perspective. And that's precisely what you need at this stage - various ideas and suggestions.

Ideation can be done in several ways. For example, you can use mind mapping or brainstorming techniques.

Once you have shortlisted the best ideas, it's time to move on to the next step.

2. Product Design and Testing:

After finalizing the product idea, it's time to work on the design. 

At this stage, you must create a 3D model of your product idea and test it for feasibility. 

The goal is to ensure that your product idea is viable and can be transformed into a working product. 

For that, you need to consider various aspects such as design, materials, cost of production, etc. 

Don't know where to start?
 

Well, there are various product designing software such as Fusion 360, SolidWorks, CATIA, AutoCAD, and many more. You can choose the one that best fits your requirements. 

Okay, but what about testing?

You must be thinking, can it also be performed using software, or do I need to have a physical prototype? 


The answer is both.


There are two testing phases in the prototype product development process - one before creating a physical prototype (simulation testing) and one after creating it (real-world testing)


Both are essential to ensure that your product idea is feasible and will work as intended in the real world. 


Nowadays, with technological advancement, the software also allows you to test your product idea virtually - isn't it interesting?


You can perform several tests, such as stress test, assembly test, durability test, etc., to know the feasibility and identify the areas that need improvement.


After designing and testing the product on the software, you need to create a physical prototype - Let's look at how it's done!

3. Prototype Development:

That's the most crucial and challenging step of the entire process. 

You need to transform your product idea into a physical working model at this stage. 

However, it's not as easy as it sounds. 

You must consider various factors such as design, materials, manufacturing process, etc. 

It would be best if you also kept the cost factor in mind because, in most cases, the prototype development stage is considered the most expensive. 

But how are prototypes developed?

According to the research conducted at the University College of West Flanders, "Prototyping can be performed in three different ways - traditional prototyping, rapid prototyping, and virtual prototyping."

The most common methods are traditional prototyping (using subtractive manufacturing techniques) and rapid prototyping (using additive manufacturing techniques).

Now, moving to the second testing stage!

4. A/B Testing:

A/B Testing, also known as "split testing," is a method used to compare two versions of a product - "A" and "B" - to see which one performs better.

It helps you to identify the areas that need improvement and make the necessary changes. 

Haven't you got it yet?
 

Let me explain with an example. 

An Example:

Suppose you have created two versions of a product - X and Y. 

Now, you need to test both these products to see which one is better. 

For that, you can use A/B testing. 

In this method, you must create two groups - "A" and "B." 

Then, you will give product X to group "A" and product Y to group "B." After using and testing both products, you will ask both groups about their experience. 

Based on that, you can decide which product is better and make the necessary changes.

So, that's the process of A/B testing in the prototype product development process - simple yet effective!

5. Final Design:

After all of the stages mentioned above, you will have a working prototype of your product. 

Now, it's time to take your product to the next level and give it a final shape. 

In this stage, you will finalize the design, materials, colors, packaging, etc. 

You need to consider all of these factors because they play a significant role in the success of your product. 

And that's it! 

Now you can go for mass production without any hesitation. 

3 Major Considerations for Prototype Product Development

Now that you know the entire process of prototype product development, it's time to learn about the three primary considerations you need to keep in mind while developing a prototype. 


But wait for a second! 

Before moving further, let me ask you something!

How will you manage your business while developing a prototype? 

How will you maintain product quality while being offshore? 

Think about it - We will discuss the solution in the next section!

Now coming back to our topic, here are the three primary considerations.

1. User-Friendly Design:

Everyone knows that design is one of the most critical aspects of product development. 

But do you know why? 

It's because the design decides how user-friendly your product will be! 

No one will go for a product that's difficult to use - that's for sure!

Most of our clients claim that they previously received a poorly designed prototype and challenging to use. 

As a result, the entire process got delayed, and they had to spend extra money. 

We are letting you know because we don't want you to be one of them - of course, you will not!

So, while developing a prototype in your product development process, ensure that it has a user-friendly design and is eligible to fulfill all the user requirements. 

2. Cost-Effective:

Being a business owner, you must be aware of the fact that money matters a lot! 

The more money you spend on developing a prototype, the higher your product's price will be, and as a result, your chances to compete against your rivals will be lower. 


We are not saying that it will cost you peanuts!

Being in this business for the previous 7 years, we know prototyping is quite expensive. 

But, it should be cost-effective enough to help you stay in the market and earn a good profit. 

Want to know how much a custom ODM product costs in China?

Read More: Manufacturing Costs for Custom ODM Products in China.

3. Compliant with International Standards:

Are you going to compete in the international market but don't know about international standards? 

Thinking about what exactly we mean?


Every country has a separate set of rules and regulations that every product needs to comply with. 


But there are several fixed international standards (like ISO, CE, FCC, etc.) as well that every product needs to follow. 


Are you worried about whether or not your manufacturer will develop a prototype compliant with all these standards? 


If yes, then relax - we have a solution for you!


As long as you work with a reliable contract manufacturer like MorphoMFG, you don't need to worry about anything! 


All our panel companies are ISO certified, and their products comply with all international standards - you are in safe hands!

Who Should You Choose to Develop a Prototype?

Remember we discussed how you would manage your business while developing a prototype? 

Did you think and find any solution?

If not, then here's the answer to your question! 

In simple words, you have to go with a contract manufacturer if you want a smooth and hassle-free prototype product development process. 

What's the catch?

A contract manufacturing company like MorphoMFG will help you from start to finish!

From developing a user-friendly design to prototype product development and final mass production - they will do it all for you.

For more clarification, check our latest "Offshore Manufacturing" blog post.

We know what you are thinking about!

  • How to find a suitable manufacturer or supplier in China?

  • Is China a good option to look for? 

We understand your concerns and know that finding a reliable manufacturer in China is not easy. There are a lot of scammers out there!
 

But we are not saying that China is not a suitable option for you. 


In fact, China is the most recommended place to get your product manufactured - if done correctly!

 

That's why most leading brands like iPhone, Cisco, Nike, etc., get their products manufactured in China. 


So, if you are also looking for a one-stop solution for your product development process, MorphoMFG is the best option! 


Why? 


Find your answer in the next section.

Morpho MFG – Helping Companies in Developing Prototypes for Their Product Development Process

MorphoMFG is one of the leading contract manufacturing companies in China. We have been serving our clients for the past 7 years and have gained considerable experience in this domain.

We have shortlisted several manufacturers and suppliers after conducting several pilot runs and tests. We are not just like some random online contractors with directories that list out a bunch of suppliers without any verification. Morpho has several offices in Guangzhou, China. 

Now, you must be thinking - how will you work?

It's not a big deal! 

  • You just have to submit your requirements, and our customer support representative will get in touch with you. 

  • After that, our engineering team analyses your requirements and assigns your project to the most suitable manufacturer. 

  • Our onboarding process took almost 30 days - Yes, 30 days!

That's a lot of time, we know. 

But trust us, anyone offering you a shorter timeline must be scamming or will outsource your project to some other supplier who is not even specialized in the required domain. 

And that's not something you would want - right?

  • After Onboarding, we will proceed with the production process. Meanwhile, we will keep you updated about the progress of your project so that you can clearly understand what's going on. 

  • Last but not least, we will do several inspections of your prototypes to maintain their quality before delivering them to you. 

This way, we can be sure that you are getting what you have paid for!
 

Want to learn more about us? Visit our homepage or schedule a call with one of our experts. We would be more than happy to help you! 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the types of prototypes?

There are three most common types of prototypes - virtual, traditional, and rapid.

Let's understand each of them in detail: 

Virtual Prototype - It is a computer-generated model of the product that you want to develop.

This type of prototype is mainly used in the early stages of product development when the design is still not finalized. 

Traditional Prototype - It is a physical model developed by traditional machining methods such as CNC machining. This traditional prototype is used to validate the design and test the product's functionality.

Rapid Prototype - It is a physical model developed using 3D printing technology. Complex products can be produced quickly by using this method.

Where to find these types of prototypes?

Whether you want to develop a virtual, traditional, or rapid prototype, MorphoMFG can help you with that. We have a team of experienced engineers who can help you create prototypes per your requirements.

So, don't wait any longer, and get in touch with us today to get started!

Which company is best for developing prototypes for product development in China?

If you have already checked the internet, you must have come across many suppliers who claim to be the best in this domain. 

But how would you know who is the best one?

It's simple - just look for the company that has been serving in this domain for the past few years and has tremendous experience. Also, the company should have physical offices in China so that you can easily get in touch with them. 

MorphoMFG is also one of those companies that can help you with your prototype requirements. But we are a bit different - how?

We care more about our customers and product quality rather than anything else. Check out our website and scroll through our broad range of services. Thanks for reading!

About the author

Josh Fairbairn

CEO of MorphoMFG, fluent in Mandarin, Blogger, and Youtuber. Josh loves interesting materials and the craftsmanship that goes into creating innovative products - watches, tech, games, whisky, leather, wood, blockchain & electronics. Josh and his team in Guangzhou, China are striving to create (& consume) the world’s highest quality products. Partnering with entrepreneurs globally to help solve the world's problems - whether small or large.

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