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TESTING AND EVALUATING A PROTOTYPE - WHY?

 

V. Ryan 2013

 

 

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Testing a prototype / developed design is a very important part of the design and manufacturing process. Testing and evaluation, simply confirms that the product will work as it is supposed to, or if it needs refinement.

In general, testing a prototype allows the designer and client to assess the viability of a design. Will it be successful as a commercial product? Testing also helps identify potential faults, which in turn allows the designer to make improvements.

There are many reasons why testing and evaluation takes place. Some reasons are described below.

   
Testing and evaluation, allows the client / customer to view the prototype and to give his/her views. Changes and improvements are agreed and further work carried out.

A focus group can try out the prototype and give their views and opinions. Faults and problems are often identified at this stage. Suggestions for improvement are often made at this stage.
   
 
   
Safety issues are sometimes identified, by thorough testing and evaluation. The prototype can be tested to British and European Standards.

The prototype can be tested against any relevant regulations and legislation. Adjustments / improvements to the design can then be made.
   
Evaluating a prototype allows the production costs to be assessed and finalised. Every stage of manufacturing can be scrutinised for potential costs. If the client has set financial limits / restrictions, then alterations to the design or manufacturing processes, may have to be made. This may lead to alternative and cheaper manufacturing processes being selected, for future production.
   
Component failure is often identified during the testing process. This may mean a component is redesign and not the entire product. Sometimes a component or part of a product, will be tested separately and not the whole product. This allows more specific tests to be carried out.
   
Evaluating the manufacture of the prototype, allows the designer to plan an efficient and cost effective manufacturing production line.
 
 
 
Prototype testing can be carried out alongside the testing of similar designs or even the products of competitors. This may lead to improvements.
   
Testing ensures that any user instructions can be worked out, stage by stage, so that the future consumer can use the product efficiently and safely. This guarantees customer satisfaction.
   
Testing a prototype allows ‘concept’ designs to be evaluated fully. This is sometimes called ‘proof of concept’. This usually happens during the early development of a product.
   
Testing against the design specification, helps ensure a full and relevant evaluation of a prototype is carried out. This should be carried out during the entire development process.
   
The testing and evaluation phrase, allows fellow designers, knowledgeable in the specialist area, to offer opinions and suggest critical improvements. This may lead to a more successful design.
 
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