Prototyping is a process that quickly converts an idea or a sketch into a physical object or model before moving to mass production. It is meant to be used for exploring the current state of a product and evaluate the latest design decisions. A prototype is the first physical object that comes after an idea before moving onto full production in a typical product development cycle.

The process is usually as follows:

  1. Idea and concept creation
  2. Rough prototype
  3. Low, mid and high-fidelity prototype (depends on the market, product, financial resources)
  4. Mass Production

When a designer comes up with an idea, he/she usually creates an immediate rough prototype – with materials available in that given moment and place. It could be anything from paper, glue, matches, clay, scissors or wire.

Prototyping is a cheap way to study design, function, shape, ergonomics, user experience etc.

Preparing a new product for mass production is usually a big financial commitment, which is where prototyping becomes useful and necessary.

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