A series of prototypes is a really good idea. But a prototype as a series isn’t. When you discover an error on one of the products you must fix it across the whole series.
We recently spend a day wearing a boiler suit and an aviator hat to withstand the new-fallen snow in Egedal.
Why, you ask? Because the LED lights on the magnificent lighting animals we made in cooperation with Egedal Municipality was failing in the wet, cold condition and had to be replaced.
And if nothing else this was a chilling reminder why you shouldn’t produce prototypes as a series: When one of the prototypes has an error, you will most likely have to fix it across the whole series – in this case 9 lighting animals currently residing in the snow.
This issue essentially speaks to the inventor’s dilemma: When is the product done?
As inventors we’re constantly balancing on this knifes edge: The product must be tested for the errors and design flaws, but if you perfectionistic insist on releasing the perfect product, it will become immensely expensive – and probably never hit the market.
Unique, artsy projects like the one with the animals add even another dimension to this dilemma, as the product is never supposed to be produced in large amounts, sold and make a profit. And for that reason, the resources for prototyping and a lot of testing is limited – basically resulting in the final product being a really well-made prototype.
And that just adds to the hard part of determining when the product is properly tested and ready for launch.
Prototyping is king
This is, of course, a piece of advice for everyone - including ourselves: You can’t be thorough enough when it comes to prototyping.
This isn’t the first time we have knowingly said yes to a project in danger of being launched as a rough edition because of the limited prototyping-resources. A rough product made multiple times, which we will have to fix across the series if it runs into trouble.
We always advise our customers to develop at least one and sometimes two prototypes – depending on the complexity - before the final product. But sometimes the resources just aren’t there.
Other times, the partner wants to have 10 prototypes for testing purposes. And when we give in and release 10 early prototypes, we also risk spending a lot of times bug-fixing those prototypes in order to make their tests run smoothly.
Never the less we sometimes give in because the project is too good to pass on – even without the proper prototyping. So let’s just take this chance to remind ourselves: It doesn’t matter if the project is a unique one or aimed at industrial production – prototyping is king!
Oh, and the animals in Egedal? They are of course up and running again after a beautiful day in the snow.