Rapid Prototyping: Everything You Need to Know
The term rapid prototyping originated in manufacturing, where it is used by design teams to build functional and physical prototypes of products. When used in software development, the term is changed, but the concept remains the same.
The prototyping tools, whether digital or on paper, help developers create, test and modify working software. This fast, effective workflow is a form of prototyping technology. If you’re interested in learning about this type of technology, we list everything you need to know in this handy guide.
What Is Rapid Prototyping?
One of the most commonly asked questions about rapid prototyping technology is, “What is it?” And it can be confusing. There are many different types of prototyping tools, some of which are based on analog technology.
An analog prototype is a physical model that’s built with real materials, while a digital prototype is made with a design program or other software. In both cases, the goal is the same: to test a product before it is built.
This testing process enables design and development teams to see what works and what doesn’t, and then makes changes in the design before the final product is built.
Combinations of analog and digital tools are also common. For example, printed circuit boards are a common prototyping tool, because they can be built using traditional print-and-build processes.
The Prototyping Process
A prototype can be made in any number of ways, and any number of tools, but the purpose is always the same. Since you’re likely to work with a team of developers and designers, here’s how the prototyping process is typically broken down:
This is the creation of a rough but functional prototype. It’s used to test your overall idea or product and then make revisions based on what you find. Prototypes can often be built using software, but there is usually some kind of physical testing involved.
After the prototype is built and tested, it’s typically shown to other people on your team and potential customers. This step is called “feedback,” and it’s used to get reactions to the product. You can then use this feedback to make changes.
After the feedback is gathered, you can then use it to make adjustments to your product or idea. This can be as simple as revising your original designs or as complex as making changes to your code.
Rapid Prototyping and Rapid Application Development (RAD)
Rapid Application Development (RAD) and rapid prototyping are terms that are sometimes used interchangeably. While they both use the same type of technology, their goals are slightly different.
RAD tools prepare software to be deployed and used immediately, usually within a single development environment. While there are systems that are considered rapid prototyping tools, they tend to produce prototypes that are not ready to be used as products.
Rapid prototyping technology can be used to create functional prototypes, but it is not used to create products that can be used right away. The purpose is to create a functional system that can be tested and then improved before it is finalised.
Rapid prototyping is a popular method of testing and developing software. Many ideas can be tested easily and quickly, and improvements can be made over time. Whether you’re building a product or a piece of software, prototyping can help you design and build a working system — right away.
If you want to test this process out for yourself, 3D Quick Printing can help. We provide rapid prototyping services in the UK to help you bring your projects to life. Get in touch with us today to learn how.