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Initial Concept to Design for Manufacturing: Prototype Properly in 6 Easy Steps

on September 04, 2018

To prototype properly you'll need focus, help from friends and definitely creativity. Every product innovator has their own process but we here at Dragon Innovation have a simplified approach to get started on your path to manufacturing your consumer electronic product.

1. P0 (Initial concept) 

This approach is simple. Bust out the duct tape, popsicle sticks and an Arduino. This is a Proof of concept prototype cobbled together for feasibility with limited functionality.

Prototype Properly Stage 1

2. P1 (Prototype stage 1)

This is the first real prototype. This is a “works like” prototype with a lot of the functionality.

Prototype Properly Stage 2


3. P2 (Prototype stage 2)

The combination of the looks like and works like prototype. Refine the design through iteration, taking small steps through each 

Prototype Properly Stage 3

4. Building

Build the product yourself, over and over – Pay attention to the steps that take are long and difficult for YOU. This will bring up areas of your design to change now, rather than on the production line (which is too late). It will also point out places where fixtures could be implemented as assembly aids.

Prototype Properly Stage 4

5. Testing & Quality

Let users interact with the product – Watching a user interacting with your product for 5 minutes is priceless. You learn if your product is intuitive, the user touch points and places for improvement.

Take a set of your prototypes and test them to failure – Find the weak points of your product and iterate some more.

Prototype Properly Stage 5

6. Design for Manufacturing (DFM) / Design for Assembly (DFA)

Taking your 3D printed part into a manufacturable part – Making sure your parts can be manufactured is what takes a prototype into a viable product (in my opinion).

Whatever the parts, they are limited by the processes in which they are manufactured limit them all.

Get it reviewed by someone with lots of experience – Experience is what really counts at this step, but if you don’t have anyone on your team with the proper sets of skills, Dragon is here to help!

Prototype Properly Stage 6


Nate Deschaine

Nate has been with Dragon Innovation for 5 years and is the Manager of Engineering. Prior to Dragon, Nate worked at iRobot, helping to design and manufacture products like the Scooba and Roomba. Nate has a background in mechanical engineering with a speciality in injection molding, design, and manufacturing.

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