Virtual Prototyping, also referred to as Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) is an important step in the new product development process. Before manufacturing an actual prototype, we, at Outdesign, use virtual prototyping to analyse, improve and validate a product under simulated constraints that try to mimic the real world conditions in a virtual environment.
Virtual prototyping has allowed us to remove the guesswork from traditional product development, identify potential issues beforehand and optimize my designs for the best performance and cost.
According to a report by Aberdeen Group, best in class manufacturers hit their revenue, cost, launch date, and quality targets for 86% or more of their products. For startups launching a new product, it becomes even more critical to utilize virtual prototyping in order to reduce time to market, minimize trial and error and optimize their products.
Virtual prototyping is arguably the most cost-effective way to test product variations, performance and reliability before committing to a design intent.
1. Minimum Trial & Error
A virtual prototype is tested before even a single physical prototype is manufactured. Thus, it can help you establish a more focused product development strategy. While the value of physical prototypes can not be undermined, virtual prototyping can be used as a great starting point that can help minimize the physical prototype cycles and save cost.
Virtual prototyping doesn’t require upfront investment into prototyping and testing equipment or tools. Further, a virtual prototype allows for quick design iterations and testing before prototype manufacturing. Design errors can be discovered during the initial phases itself, thus offering significant cost advantage. Depending on the product type and expected production volume, a correctly optimized design can easily save upto several hundred thousands of dollars as compared to a non-optimized design.
3. Improved Time to Market
In case of physical prototyping, the build-test-iterate loop can take upto months. On the other hand, virtual prototyping makes it easier to test, change and accurately meet product specifications. It enables product development teams to perform dimensional analysis and check tolerances quickly. With virtual prototyping, one can optimize material selection, explore color variations and conduct structural and dynamic analysis - without creating an actual physical part! The result is immense cost savings and quicker time to market.
4. Understanding Product Characteristics
Virtual prototyping offers the significant advantage of performing repeatable tests under real-world operating conditions that may be difficult to create with physical prototyping. These may include temperature variations, corrosive environments and against failure modes, thus providing you a better understanding of product attributes.
Analysis of a Plastic Snap-fit
As a result of testing and iterating products before manufacturing prototypes, the overall wastage in materials can be significantly reduced, especially for large parts and products. Further iterations are carried out by altering existing simulations and the total number of physical prototypes goes down, thus cutting down on production scrap, resources and time. This leads to a sustainable, low wastage product development process.
Time to market is crucial for a startup and virtual prototyping is a key enabler to help you speed up the product development process. Understanding materials, testing under hard to simulate real-life conditions and early discovery of pitfalls help mitigate risks and lead to accurate design, thus leading to significant cost savings and a reduced time to market.