Rapid product development (RPD) is a method of creation that allows inventors to prove their concept and bring items to market faster. It offers many advantages that bear consideration for those who may be starting with limited funds or a short timeline. With rapid product development, they can bring better products to the market and gain competitive advantages.
There are many methodologies to consider in RPD, whether they be for initial product design or in the overall manufacturing process. Combining several rapid product development options will speed an entire project to the finish line within budget and on time.
Common Approaches to Rapid Product Development
There are two primary components to rapid product development to consider that set the stage for speed. Rapid prototyping allows the creation of a working product model. Meanwhile, rapid tooling helps creators build the devices they need for manufacturing like dyes, molds, jigs, and more. By combining the two, creators can ensure designs are viable and that they have the resources to create them on a mass scale. Here are a few commonly used rapid prototyping and tooling methods:
- 3D printing: A printing device controlled by a computer program creates a product or tool in layers. This process allows for very intricate designs and rapid creation.
- Mold making and casting: Melted urethane or silicone goes into a mold to create a part or piece of a part. This process may also leverage CNC machining or 3D printing, though freeform creation is possible as well.
- CNC machining: A computer numerical coding machine operates various factory tools and machines. This process allows for detailed designs while minimizing the risk of human error.
- Powder bed fusion: This is an ideal option when working with metals, as it leverages a high-powered laser to create 3-dimensional models out of powdered materials. The laser is guided via a computer to ensure a highly detailed design.
These aren’t the only options in rapid product development, but they are among the most popular. By using them, creators can realize many advantages.
8 Advantages of Rapid Product Development
Rapid product development can be an ideal tool, not just for new creators, but also for large companies that want to test out new products before a complete rollout. Here are eight advantages of rapid product development to consider.
#1: Viability exploration
Before spending significant funding creating products, it’s wise to ensure it will work as expected and be structurally sound. A low fidelity model of the product can prove the viability of the concept before wasting any significant time or energy.
Product development costs can run anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000. Rapid prototyping can help to reduce these expenses as it allows creators to develop products with fewer materials, and in shorter time frames.
Overall, rapid product development provides obvious time savings because that’s the entire goal—to speed the creation of new products. Much time is spent simply trying to establish production standards. Using techniques like rapid tooling allows creators to move from the development stage to manufacturing faster.
#4: Improved communication
An actual working model of a product is a far more explicit indication of vision than a simple discussion or sketch. As the team can see the model and how it functions, they’ll better align themselves with the same goals.
#5: Testing opportunities
In a traditional product development strategy, it may be months before a working model rolls off the line. That limits the opportunity to test and refine the concept. Rapid prototyping provides time to adjust and improve the design.
#6: Proof of concept
Being able to show effective prototyping is an ideal tool when it comes to applying for patents, gaining investors, and driving product buzz. The working model shows third parties the idea is viable and worth the effort.
#7: Manufacturing planning
Design for manufacturing is a process where the development of the products guides the manufacturing method. In rapid product development, this is considered through all stages. Refining the design and the manufacturing process simultaneously ensures a seamless transition when the time comes for mass production.
#8: Competitive advantages
It’s not unusual for creators to have the same idea as others at the same time. What determines the success isn’t the idea itself, but who gets it to market the fastest. By using a rapid product development process, creators increase their chance of being the first to introduce a groundbreaking idea.
Rapid product development combines several high-speed methodologies to ensure products make it to the market faster. To take advantage of the benefits, it’s wise to work with a partner experienced in a wide range of these options. That way, the creator gains the competitive advantage of speed to market without having to sacrifice quality in design.
PRL’s engineers have dozens of manufacturing options available to help you solve any challenge facing your product: CNC machining, custom tooling, 3D printing, thermoplastic molding, reverse engineering, and more. No matter what stage your product is currently at, we can create it and optimize it for manufacturing.