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What is prototype & the function of prototype ?

“What is prototype ”always asked by the new friends who take first steps into the industrial design field , today let’s explain it in detail . 
Normally , for new R&D or just finished products need to make prototype , and it is the first step to test and verify product’s feasibility , it is the most direct and effective way to find developing product’s defect , shortage and disadvantage , thus improve the defects pointedly until can not find any faults from the prototype . In addition , it is also need to trial-produce small quantity to find the shortage for improve the designing again . Finished products generally can not do perfect , even not be used sometimes ,so if produce large quantity directly then all products will be worthless , greatly waste manpower and material resources and time . But for prototype , it is little samples , processing time is short , less manpower and less material resources , finding out the shortage of the product design and improvement it quickly , providing  sufficient proofs for products and production .

Speaking simply , prototype is a functional tool for checking model appearance and structural rationality according to several finished appearance prototypes and structure prototypes under without moulding premise .

prototype’s evolution

Early prototype due to various conditions limited , mainly displays in the most of the work was done by hand, so let it very strick to achieve the diagram paper size requirements on appearance and structure , so checking appearance and structural rationality also sell at a discount greatly.

With the development of technology and fast development of CAD and CAM technology , providing more and more technical support for prototype making , let prototype become more and more accurate. On the other hand, along with the social competition is becoming increasingly intense, product development speed is increasingly becoming the main contradiction of the competition, then prototype making can improve the speed of product development effectively. It is in this case, prototype manufacturing emerged and as a relatively independent industry and flourished.

The classification of prototype

A) According to the manufacture method points

According to the manufacture method points, it can be divided into manual prototype and numerical control prototype

(1) Manual prototype : the main work is done by hand.
2) Numerical control prototype: the main work is done by numerical control machines, according to the different equipment used, then it can be divided into laser Rapid Prototyping (RP, Rapid Prototyping) and processing center (CNC) prototyping .

A: RP prototype: mainly use laser rapid prototyping technology to process . 
B: CNC prototype: mainly produced by CNC machines
Advantages and disadvantages between RP prototype and CNC machining prototype :

The advantages of RP prototype mainly in its rapidity, but it is mainly through the stacking technology molding, so RP prototype is rough relative to CNC machining prototype , and it is   has certain requirements about product’s wall thickness , such as if the wall thickness is too thin then it cannot be produced .
The advantages of CNC machining prototype mainly in it can be very accurate reflect drawings’ expression information, and CNC machining prototype surface quality is high, especially after complete surface coating and silk screen, even more shining than the product produced by mold . Therefore, CNC prototype manufacturing become the mainstream in prototyping line increasingly .

2) According to the material points
2) According to the material points, it can be divided into plastic prototype ,silicone prototype and  metal prototype :
 (1) Plastic prototype: raw material is plastic, mainly for some plastic products, such as TV, displayer , telephone and so on.
 (2)Silicone prototype :raw material is silicone , mainly for showing some appearance prototypes ,such as car , telephone ,toy, artware product and articles of everyday use product and so on .
 3) Metal prototype : raw materials are aluminum magnesium alloy and metal , mainly for high-end products , such as notebook computer, senior playback, MP3 player, CD machine, etc.
The necessity of making prototype 
(1) Test appearance design
 Prototype is not only visible, but also tangible, it can be physical form to reflect designer's creation in a very intuitive way. And avoid the disadvantage of " good-looking drawing but do not good-looking " . Therefore prototyping is indispensable in new product development and the research of product appearance .

(2) Test structure design
 Because prototype is assembled , so it can be reflect structural reasonable intuitive or not and the extent of assembly and easy to find and solve problems.

(3) Avoid direct open mold risk .
 As the cost of moulding is generally high, the cost of larger mould need hundreds of thousands or even millions, and if in moulding process , unreasonable structure or other problems would be find , then its loss can be imagined. But for prototyping then it can avoid this kind of loss and reduce moulding risk .

(4) Make the product available time well in advance

Because the advancement of prototype making , you can use prototype as product promotion before mold developed , even early sales, production preparation work and occupy the market as soon as possible. Now the prototyping technology is quite mature and appearance prototype is same with the product , and many manufacturers showed prototypes in exhibitions to get orders and then open mold production to minimize risks .