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Virtual Prototype

What's the Point of a Virtual Prototype?

Virtual prototyping is probably the biggest benefit that comes from using computer aided design.  Virtual prototyping allows for high quality designing.  By that I mean you can fit parts with the proper clearances and check for the interference of parts before ever spending a dime on materials.  You can also “dress” the product in various material finishes and colors to see what your product will look like.  By the time you get to the point where you’re going to make a physical prototype, you’ve got a good idea of how it will operate and what it will look like.  The changes that are made in the physical prototype, after having been designed as a virtual prototype, are far less than if a virtual model had never been created.  Almost every model or product, goes through an evolution of changes to it’s appearance because you’re able to see how it will appear before making a physical prototype.  CAD is an amazingly beneficial tool for designing products.

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Virtual Prototype - Then What? Manufacturing?
guy wondering why asking questions

So, you’re probably asking yourself about what to do after making a virtual prototype. It depends. Rarely does a virtual prototype represent the finished product.  The only time a “first physical prototype” might represent the finished product, is when a licensee, or buyer, who thought your idea was so good that they wanted to take over the designing and prototyping themselves in order to make a product that either fit, or worked with, one of their present product lines. Otherwise, you’re going to have to create a physical prototype, sometimes multiple physical prototypes, to test your product. Testing your product is a good thing. You want to be sure you don’t “jump the gun” so-to-speak, and produce something in a vacuum that will be improved upon by someone else, the moment it hits the market.

After producing your first physical prototype, imagine it was your first exposure to the product. Imagine you’d never heard of it, or even conceived it. What questions or expectations might you have when you put it in your hand? Could you figure out what it is and how it worked if you were familiar with the field that the product is in? Make sure your product solves a problem or is easier to use than your competitions. What you don’t want to do is make a product that performs a function, in simply a different way. In other words, if the problem has already been solved, and all your product offers is just a different way to do the same thing, you might want to rethink it. Redundancy is usually not a popular product. Problem solving is the key to a great invention. Multiple prototypes are almost always required.

Okay, Now That I've Made a Physical Prototype, is the Virtual One Useless Now?

So, you’ve made all your physical prototypes and you’ve got the design to where you want it; now what? You are either going to manufacture, package and distribute it yourself, or, you’re going to license the idea or sell it outright. This is where the virtual prototype (that is no longer needed to make physical prototypes) can still keep working for you. Once you have the virtual model you can make videos, create marketing pictures and build a presentation to use to sell your product. The videos and pics can now be further used to populate a website.  A website is invaluable in that it gives you an address to send people to, when THEY have the time. This gives you a much higher chance of someone actually reviewing your product and contacting you. A sell sheet can get lost and is limited to one location or one person who may or may not pass it on to the right person. So, my point is that a virtual model has many uses and can play a big role in the eventual sale of your product. A virtual prototype is a must for many reasons.

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The Modeling Environment vs Imaging For Presentations
virtual prototype modeling image

The picture on the left/top is the virtual model in the modeling environment.  The colors and lines lack realism and it’s for good reason.  The computer has to recreate the model in 3D every time you rotate, or move it.  If it had to render a high-def image, it would require that your processor perform an enormous amount of calculations, very  quickly.  This would slow your work-flow down, wasting a lot of time.  The image below it, is created in another software program where the model appears more detailed, in high-definition. This type of imaging is for videos and pics used in marketing.  We work in the low-definition environments when creating the model and fitting parts & clearances, along with appropriate stress testing where applicable.  We work in a high-definition environment to see how the model will appear as a product for presenting to a possible licensee or buyer.  This high-definition environment is used making videos for websites, YouTube and for presentations and pictures.

Click on the Pictures Below for a Larger Image

Stay Confident

“A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow.”  Charles Brower