What is Prototyping?

Prototyping is the method in which the designing of the product takes place. In this process, any product is designed or modeled. This is the process in which the product replica is designed for testing or analysis.

The diagram of the prototyping model can be shown as,

The diagram represents the prototyping model. The diagram shows various phases of a prototype, including initial requirement, design, prototyping, customer evaluation, review and updation, development, test, and maintenance. If the customer is satisfied, then the model proceeds for the product. If he is not satisfied, it is sent for review and updating and then again designing and continuing further.
Prototyping Model

The above diagram shows that firstly, the initial model requirements are checked for the prototype design.Then it continues further for prototyping, after which it is sent to stakeholders or customers.If the customer is satisfied with the prototype, further development, testing, and maintenance of the prototyping model take place. If there is some feedback from the customer, then it is sent for review, updating process, and then again for designing. This process is repeated if required.

What is Prototype?

The prototype is an initial model or replica of a product or specimen on which the testing occurs. The prototype of a product is generally designed to test the feasibility of the product.

Steps to build a prototype

The diagram for the steps of the prototype can be shown as,

In this diagram, steps to model a prototype are shown. The first step shows the sketching process. The second step shows a tangible model of a square box prototype. The third diagram shows a final prototype model of a squared box.
Steps to Model a Prototype
  • The first step includes drawing, words, sketching. In this stage, the prototype is designed on a paper or sheet via pen or digitally. It is the quick creation of an iterative prototyping model. It provides a short overview of a prototype. It is the exploration of ideas and concepts of the prototyping model on paper. Usually, it includes handmade drawings and sketches.
  • In the second step, a tangible form of prototype is made. It includes a 3D model. This is one step forward than the paper sketching. Scrap product or any material will constitute to build a rough prototyping model. For the digitally made prototype, the software tools can be recommended.
  • In the third step, the final product prototype will be created. It is not the finished or final product as there may be chances of modifications after the customer feedback. This can be called a testing product. This step includes 3D printing, brochure, and digitally made product, features, and important key features of the prototype.

Types of Prototyping

Various types of prototyping are extreme, rapid, evolutionary, and incremental prototyping. They have been discussed below:

Extreme Prototyping

These prototyping methods are generally employed for web development and their applications. The web applications consist of a presentation layer and a service layer. The presentation layer is shown in stakeholders' or anyone's browser. The service layer consists of services of communication, backend, and authorization, business logic.

Three phases of extreme prototyping are built, transformed, and coded. Inbuilt stage, the HTML wireframes are used for the stimulation of the presentation type of layer. In the transform stage, the functionality HTML wireframes are used for the service type of layer stimulation. Code phase is used for the implementation of the service web application layer.

In this prototyping, any technology is firstly designed and modeled by a developer before its launch and implementation. The developer or design team then works on these areas for a successful technology application.

Rapid prototyping or throw away prototyping

As per the definition, this type of prototyping is commonly employed in the initial design phases. Lots of ideas and concepts were considered in the initial phase. Rapid prototyping is used at the time of low refinement in the design of the final stages. For example, when the design is roughly made on paper at any place, and later the design is drawn on the computer via any software, the paper is thrown away after use. That thrown-out paper comes under the rapid prototyping category.

The throw away prototyping can be shown as,

The diagram represents the block diagram of the rapid prototyping. The first block represents established outline specs. Then the second block shows the developed prototype. Then the third block represents the evaluated prototype. At this point, the prototype threw away, and the next block represents the specified system. The next block shows the design and implementation system. Here, the development of the existing system is made. The next block gives information about the validated system, and then feedback of this phase will be retaken in the previous stage and again system validation processed.
Rapid Prototyping

Here, the concept and ideas of the prototype come under established outline specifications. After the prototype development, an evaluation of the prototype takes place. The system is specified. Then design and implementation of the system and system validation takes place. The feedback from this stage is taken, then design implementation takes place, and this process continues.

Evolutionary prototyping

Evolutionary prototyping uses functional software along with stimulation. It consists of a product that fulfills the need of a system. It will not be helpful from the customer's point of view as it includes information about the initial phase. In this prototyping, the system idea and the concept are built.

Some part of the required product is made and is shown to the customer or stakeholder. Then according to the feedback of the customer, further developments of the product take place. Sometimes customers are satisfied at the same time and then recommended to launch the product, and the other processes stop.

The steps of the evolutionary prototyping can be shown as,

The diagram represents the block diagram of the evolutionary prototyping. At the start, the first block represents requirement gathering. Then the next step is the quick design. Building a prototype then evaluation with the users refine of a prototype then if it required more changes with this feedback the process again repeats from the quick design otherwise the product engineered and then the process stops.
Evolutionary Prototyping

Incremental prototyping

According to the definition, small sizes of prototypes are developed parallelly. These prototypes are refined and investigated, and then they will constitute form a big prototype. Then the final prototype is evaluated closely for its look, features, behavior, feel, functionality, etc. Each prototype may vary as per their look and other prospective. The feel of many prototypes can also change.

Common Mistakes

  • It is a misconception that evolutionary prototype and minimum viable product (MVP) are the same. But actually, the first stage of the evolutionary prototyping appears to be similar to MVP.
  • Sometimes students get confused that evolutionary prototyping is the same as rapid prototyping. But both are different.
  • It is a misconception that after the initial stage of incremental prototyping, the prototype always gets finalized. But it happens sometimes.
  • It is a misconception by the name of extreme prototyping that the prototyping emphasis more at the end. But usually, the focus is more on the initial stages of the development of the prototype.
  • Students get confused between the rapid prototyping and the AndPlus projects. But the AndPlus projects consist of rapid prototyping. The agile framework of AndPlus projects is generally observed in rapid prototyping.

Context and Applications

The topic concept of prototyping is common in many technical as well as professional courses, graduation courses, post-graduation, Doctor of Philosophy, and others. For example:

  • Bachelor of Technology in Mechanical Engineering
  • Bachelor of Technology in Industrial Design
  • Bachelor of Technology in Engineering Design
  • Master of Technology in Mechanical Engineering
  • Master of Technology in Computer-Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Computer-Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing
  • Prototypes
  • Computer-Aided Design
  • Computer Aided Manufacturing
  • Modeling of a product
  • Design of a system
  • Types of prototyping

Practice Problems

Q1: Which of the following prototyping uses fewer efforts and less needed analysis for making a prototype?

(a) Extreme prototyping

(b) Evolutionary prototyping

(c) Incremental prototyping

(d) Rapid prototyping

Correct option: (d)

Q2: Which of the following is responsible for the improvement in the quality of the software?

(a) Extreme programming

(b) Evolutionary prototyping

(c) Adaptive software development

(d) Spiral model

Correct option: (a)

Q3: What are the following types of prototyping that use small pieces of prototypes for building a large prototype?

(a) Throw away prototyping

(b) Incremental prototyping

(c) Extreme prototyping

(d) Evolutionary prototyping

Correct option: (b)

Q4: Which of the following prototype includes built phase, transformed, and code phases?

(a) Diagonal prototyping

(b) Domain prototyping

(c)  Rapid prototyping

(d) Extreme prototyping

Correct option: (d)

Q5: What are the sequences followed for making a prototype?

(a) Drawing<tangible model<finished model

(b) Finished model<sketching<refinement

(c) Paper model<end product<tangible model

(d) Software design<finished model<refinement

Correct option: (a)

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