4 Steps to Creating an Effective Product Prototype

In 2016, U.S. applicants filed 56,595 patent, trademark, and copyright applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The average number of approved applications typically hovers around 50%.

What exactly does that have to do with creating a prototype you may ask? Studies show that your chances of receiving a patent grant are greatly improved if you have a prototype built at the time of application. While it’s not a requirement, it does show that you have put considerable thought and time into your model, which in turn could only help your application.

So how exactly can you create an effective prototype? Follow these 4 steps

1) Design a Concept Sketch

Some of the best ideas begin on napkins! We do recommend that you write your concept down on actual paper, but the concept is the same. There is something about physically writing out or sketching your design that helps it come to life. Many choose to turn their “paper” design sketches into virtual 3D models for a deeper look at what their design will look like in its physical form.

An added benefit? Keeping a book of your sketches could help if you ever need to prove ownership of your designs.

2) Establish a Virtual Model

Next you’ll want to turn your hand-drawn sketch into a virtual one. Having a 3D rendering of your model allows you to view your prototype at all angles and give you a much better idea of how your design will look before you invest in the physical model.

There are a number of online softwares you can use to develop your physical model. If you aren’t saavy, an experienced prototype designer can get the job done for you.

3) Build the Physical Model

Once you’ve approved the virtual rendering, you’ll want to have the actual model built. This is where you truly get to see your design come to life! This is also where cost comes into play. Some investors are lucky enough to have the skills to build their physical models themselves. However for those who aren’t as fortunate, there are other resources.

Typically you’ll want to employ a designer or an engineer to build your model. A more economical option is to employ the help of a handyman or woodsmith to help you construct your model. Soliciting help from colleges who have design or engineering programs may be a helpful option as well. Keep in mind that you’ll want to use less expensive materials during this phase while you’re still figuring out what works and what doesn’t. This will save you a good chunk of change for down the line.

4) Find an Experienced Manufacturer

Now that you’ve sketched, animated, and built your design, it’s time to locate a reputable manufacturer to help you roll out your design. Some manufacturers even offer 3D printing and prototype testing services, so you can combine a few of the steps above into one. Take care to research and visit more than one manufacturer. Getting it right the first time will save you countless dollars and hours!

Of course, building an effective prototype can be a long process. Developers should take care to produce a good prototype but not spend too long on its design. Doing so can often result in you nitpicking your own product when truly your prototype should serve as a basic model and assist you during your product testing phases. You can learn more about what to avoid during your prototype development stage here.

More Questions?

BRADFORD, LTD is dedicated to protecting your ideas from idea inception to product roll-out. We take time to learn your product and its market to guide you through the design phases and legal steps to ensure a successful launch of your IP.  If you have questions, BRADFORD, LTD has answers. Give us a call today at 303.325.5467, we are here to help you!

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Bradford LTD specializes in IP protections and maximization for startups and small businesses. We also provide scaled legal services to our clients, including fractional legal counsel and value-based rates. From trademark, copyright and service mark protections to patent protection and outside inside counsel, we help position entrepreneurs and owners for long-term success.

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