Prototype; a first model or sample of a product from which more copies are developed or copied from. Prototypes are usually built as models to test a product concept or process or to act as an example to be replicated or learned from.
Different Types of Prototypes;
Functional Prototype or Working Prototype; (also called functioning prototype) will, to the greatest extent relay the practical attempt to simulate the final design, aesthetics, materials and functionality of the intended design. The functional prototype may be reduced in size (scaled down) in order to reduce costs. The construction of a fully working full-scale prototype is the ultimate test of concept stage and is usually the final check for design flaws and allows last-minute improvements to be made before short-run, large or mass production runs are ordered.
Proof-of-Principle Prototype; is a concept prototype used to test some aspect of the intended design without attempting to exactly simulate the visual appearance, choice of materials or intended manufacturing process. Such prototypes can be used to “prove” out a potential design approach such as range of motion, mechanics, sensors, architecture, etc. These types of models are often used to identify which design options will or will not work.
Form Study Prototype; is a type of prototype will allow designers to explore the basic size, look and feel of a product without simulating the actual function or exact visual appearance of the product. They can help assess ergonomic factors and provide insight into visual aspects of the product’s final form. Form Study Prototypes do not usually represent the intended color, finish, or texture. Due to the materials used, these models are intended for internal decision making and are generally not durable enough or suitable for use for consumer testing.
User Experience Prototype invites active human interaction and is primarily used to support user focused research. While intentionally not addressing possible aesthetic treatments, this type of model does more accurately represent the overall size, proportions, interfaces, and articulation of a promising product concept. This type of model allows early assessment of how a potential user interacts with various elements, motions, and actions of a concept which define the initial use scenario and overall user experience.
Visual Prototype; will capture the intended design aesthetic and simulate the appearance and sometimes color and surface textures of the intended product but will not actually embody the function of the final product. These models may be suitable for use in market research, executive reviews and approval, packaging mock-ups and photo shoots for sales literature.
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