How & Why Prototypes Are Mandatory for Energy-Saving Technology

Sarah Jessica Smith - Contributing writer

Posted on Monday 6th May 2019


With the ever-evolving technological advancements in manufacturing, the shift toward environmentally-friendly processes is becoming more plausible for businesses to achieve. While these advances will change many of the steps in the manufacturing process, some aspects will always be essential.

Prototyping, for example.

Prototypes are mandatory when investigating energy-saving technology and figuring out ways to do things that will reduce one’s carbon footprint. Whether someone is looking to create the next great renewable energy source or alter the manufacturing process, this step won’t change.

Testing the Finished Result for Design Flaws

The main reason for creating a prototype is to test for design flaws before investing lots of time and money in a full scale-up. By investing in rapid prototyping and precision CNC machining services, you can determine if your idea translates from paper to product. It allows you to determine if any issues need to be re-addressed in the design stages of production.

While creating something that could ultimately impact the effectiveness of energy saving technology, this step becomes even more essential. Production, in itself, uses a substantial amount of energy resources to complete. In 2017, the U.S. industrial sector alone was responsible for 30% of the country’s consumption, using 25 QBtu. Thus, ensuring you have a prototype that is ready for full-scale production reduces the risk of wasting valuable resources.

Whereas the design process is often open to creative freedom and exploration, the prototyping process refocuses and refines the design, halting the various branches of exploration or bringing them together in a cohesive format. During this prototyping stage, you’re not only testing the design for flaws but looking at the production method itself. Are there potential complications or something with the process you’re using that isn’t yielding the desired results? Is there another production method that might be better suited? We expand on this idea in a later section.

Market Research

You may discover that your product is designed well and that your prototype requires minimal adjustments to make it market ready. However, without ample market research, you can’t understand the desires of your target demographic. Leading up to the production process, you will have conducted market research to test your idea; prototyping will help you conduct further research to validate your efforts. It’s better for design to fail early rather than making it to mass production and failing then.

Having a prototype gives you a chance to evaluate user buy-in before you hit the marketplace. By getting market research completed with early prototypes, you open your design up to helpful feedback that may alter what you’re manufacturing to make it more user-friendly. Additionally, you’ll get a better idea surrounding what people would be willing to pay for your product, which will tell you if you need to make any alterations to your pricing strategy.

At this time, consider looking at the various components that will take your energy-saving technology to market; test your marketing strategy as well as the prototype. Green initiatives in products and production methods. The Shelton Group research organization recently evaluated millennial consumers to determine how vital environmental-consciousness in a business is when making a purchasing decision. 90% of participants indicated that eco-friendly efforts matter when spending their money. 95% indicated that they are more likely to refer the companies that prioritize these efforts to their friends and colleagues. As the millennial generation spends upward of $600 billion on consumer goods each year, it creates a significant opportunity to sell energy-saving technology to them, either directly or via other businesses. In short, prototyping is essential for assessing consumer buy-in while highlighting the benefits of your product.

Costs and Production Needs

Creating a prototype can help identify any costs or production requirements that weren’t initially considered during the design phase. You may find that while your product has the potential to change the way we use energy, the production costs are so high that no one will be willing to invest in the product. Again, this is where it’s better to fail early rather than make it to market.

On the other hand, the prototyping phase may identify any superfluous steps in the production process that can be removed or combined during scale up. Being aware of these steps can reduce the cost of the product off the line, make the production process more environmentally-friendly, and make the marketability of your product more viable.

Getting a Patent for Your Invention

If you have effectively created a new manufacturing process that will change the amount of energy and environmental resources used during production, or a piece of technology that will change the world, it’s essential that you protect your research with a patent.

The patenting process is quite complex, with various angles to pursue depending on how your product or process is classified. Having a prototype rather than an idea on paper simplifies the patenting process, as your patent attorney will need to have an understanding of your idea to argue the case for a patent. In many cases, ideas fall short on paper and lack the proof and validation required to have a patent granted.

When it comes to creating new, energy-saving technology, the details are often complex and difficult to comprehend for those who don’t have a strong industry background. To bring your process or product forward to an attorney and have them convey that message onward, having a prototype that they can use for visualization will help immensely.

Selling Your Concept

Many businesses don’t go into full production until they have customer buy-in. Having a prototype of your energy-saving technology will make the product more tangible for potential buyers in the sales pipeline.

In addition to selling to the end-user, a prototype is essential for getting investors to support your project. Many potential investors expect to see a prototype before making a decision, rather than supporting an idea. A prototype lets investors know where you are in your project, whether you’re in the early design stages or ready to go to production. It will also assist in fostering an emotional connection to the project, and cultivates a rapport by creating an opportunity for feedback.

Whether the people you are presenting to are manufacturers who want to be able to use your energy-saving processes or someone who will use the technology you’ve created in their business or home, having something visual and tactile makes a significant impact in the sales process. For this reason and the others listed here, prototyping always has and always will play a significant role in the production process, especially pertaining to energy-saving technology and innovation.

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