How To Know if Your Prototype Is Ready for the Market

How To Know if Your Prototype Is Ready for the Market

Turning an original concept into a profitable product is an exciting experience for your business. However, if your product launch is going to be a success, you need to be certain that your device is ready for the market. This is especially true for medical devices and similar products that can have health and safety consequences if they fail. As such, thorough testing needs to be part of every product development process.

Prototypes help you continuously develop and refine your idea until you have a functional and effective product. Without prototype testing, companies would struggle to create and manufacture successful products. As you navigate the development process and grow ever closer to the point when you can finally sell your product to end-users, make sure you know how to navigate the various tests and qualifications your prototype needs. Discover how to know if your prototype is ready for the market with this guide.

Have a Clear Idea From the Start

Knowing when your product is ready for the market starts before you even begin the development phase. All new product projects should start with research and market assessment. These initial steps allow you to ask questions about the role of your product. What problem does your product set out to solve? Are there other solutions to this problem currently available? If so, how will your product improve those solutions?

Answering these questions gives you a clear idea of what your end product must be. When you know the role and purpose of your product, it’s easier to say when your prototype has met those goals.

The Importance of Prototype Testing

There are plenty of ways to test your idea on a theoretical level, but you won’t know for sure that it works until the product is in a user’s hands. Prototypes are functional designs that allow you to test and refine your product. Designing, testing, and tweaking prototypes allows you to eventually build a version of the product that meets all your goals.

Prototypes have benefits beyond preparing your product for the market, though. Testing your prototypes is a surefire way to get early feedback from end users. The sooner you hear reviews and constructive criticism, the easier it is to fix mistakes and fine-tune the product. Furthermore, refining your product early helps you avoid recalls and other post-launch problems. Fixing a mistake or even improving a product after it’s already on the market costs a lot more time and money than improving a prototype.

Most products go through countless prototypes before landing on their final design. Each prototype—even the flawed ones that you inevitably throw away—is a crucial part of creating a successful end product.

Ensure Functionality With Alpha Units

Your first round of prototypes is going to have imperfections. These “Alpha” prototypes exist to test functionality in the early designs of your product. Those big questions we asked at the start of the project—what problem your product solves and how it solves it—drive design in these early prototypes.

With your original concept and your users’ needs in mind, the development team can create rough prototypes to ensure the device works on a basic level. From this starting point, you can continue to refine your product to best meet your goals and requirements.

Refine Design With Beta Units

Once you have safe and functional Alpha units, you can further refine your design into more detailed or efficient models. These prototypes are known as Beta units. You can make a lot of improvements and design changes with Beta units. This is the stage where your device moves beyond basic functionality and into the details and features that make it a worthwhile product.

This phase of prototype testing also reveals the potential manufacturing variation of your product. As your prototypes evolve, your concept gets closer and closer to becoming a marketable product.

Verification and Validation

You can’t release a product without undergoing verification and validation first. The verification and validation stages involve assessing your product to determine that the design is both functional and beneficial. Verification and validation are crucial quality assurance practices and a necessary part of developing safe, relevant, and successful products.

Verification

Verification is an internal process that revolves around device design. During verification, the development team checks that your device meets all the requirements you set out with. This might mean assessing speed, portability, or other features. The verification stage also ensures that your device meets all compliance standards and regulations. Meeting industry standards, national and local regulations, and other relevant qualifications are a crucial part of how to know if your prototype is ready for the market.

Validation

Validation is an external process that focuses on end users’ needs and experiences. It’s not enough to make a functional device. Your product also needs to accomplish the goal you set out with. You need to know that your idea truly solves the problem you initially identified. The validation stage puts your product into the context of the real-world market and ensures your device has a place there.

Other Forms of Prototype Testing

Different product ideas call for different kinds of prototype testing throughout the development process. Some prototype tests revolve around design flow and functionality. Intuitive design is another aspect to test among users. Prototype testing can occur both internally and externally, depending on what you need to learn and refine.

Your specific tests will depend on what your product is and what you’re looking to improve. No matter what types of tests you conduct, keep in mind that the goal is to evaluate specific functions. Asking detailed questions that address specific features is the best way to obtain constructive feedback about your prototype.

When Is Your Product Ready for Market?

Once you have a functional device that meets user needs, obeys compliance standards, and achieves the goal you set out with, you’re ready to begin the process of manufacturing and marketing. This checklist of requirements and qualifications can be daunting, but prototype testing and refinement helps you develop a worthy product that accomplishes everything you need it to.

A reliable development partner can help you through designing and perfecting your product idea. For experienced mechanical engineering and medical device design, turn to the experts at Gener8. Our turnkey medical device solutions allow you to successfully put your original concept on the market. Contact us today to learn how our expert teams and state-of-the-art facilities can empower you and your ideas.

How To Know if Your Prototype Is Ready for the Market
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