Relying on a prototype to supplement new product development has revolutionized the industry. Production trends, like high speed machining, have made prototyping technology more attainable for different types of manufacturers. Those who are willing to invest in these products and technology are essentially investing in their design process.
The prototyping process can be modified based on what a manufacturer has carved out for their design. Quantity is a common tier that is used to qualify prototyping, whether the mockups will be made in a large or small quantities. Here is a list of the benefits that small quantity prototyping creates:
1. Reduction of design risks.
A small quantity prototype lowers the financial stakes often associated with research and design because manufacturers can test out different products without spending money on a large batch of different designs. One engineer talked about the nonlinearity of research and design, saying that a prototype, whether successful or not, is a learning tool.
Manufacturers will often learn from early mistakes and implement these lessons into different prototype designs. Small quantity prototyping promotes a “back to the drawing board” mentality, which has been built into the process.
2. Develops the preliminary design process.
Creating prototypes in a small batch allows for multiple versions of a product to be tested at the same time. As opposed to businesses that offer intangible services, the manufacturing of a physical product is very front-heavy, meaning that making a profit often implies that a good amount of time and money should be allocated for R&D.
Producing a prototype in a small quantity, with the aid of today’s manufacturing technology, is relatively easy and therefore can mislead a sense of productivity. On the other hand, however, continuing to develop prototype technology further will lead to an increased confidence in how well these models can reflect the effectiveness and function of the finished product.
3. Availability for customization increases.
Within the context of small quantity prototypes, this traditional business teaching remains true: lessening the general focus on quantity improves product quality. Beyond quality, small quantity prototyping also introduces a focus on customization.
High quality product parts can be custom-made without taking too much time or incurring a huge financial burden. This is beneficial because manufacturers can really hone in on a specific focus, like material or function, when constructing a new product.
4. Time can be managed more effectively.
With less emphasis on quantity, there is more opportunity for effective time management. Turnaround is quicker for both prototype production and new product development. Continuously investing in prototype technology accelerates the speed in which a new product will eventually reach the market stage.
In the long run, management of outdated inventory can also be a liability when it comes to time management, and small quantities minimize this in manufacturing.
Should your business be focusing more on quantity or quality?
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