Exhibiting products to Retail Buyers

Have you got an idea in mind that’s about to change the world?

One of the most exciting steps in the process is creating a prototype. Yet figuring out how to make a prototype for the first time can be challenging.

Maybe you’re incredibly creative, but lack the technical skills to make a prototype from scratch. Perhaps you’re someone who knows generally how to make a product prototype, but you just need a hand getting it perfect.

Continue reading to learn more about how to manufacture a prototype and how to create prototype iterations that match not only your vision but your target market.

Why Do You Need a Prototype?

Before discussing how to create a product prototype, you may be wondering why you need a prototype in the first place.

Contrary to popular belief, to patent your latest and greatest idea with the U.S. Patent Office, you don’t need to submit a prototype. So, why make a prototype at all?

Prototypes can show prospective vendors what your final product will look like. They can also increase your likelihood of getting your patent approved. Just 55% of patent applications are approved, so it can be difficult to ascertain which will secure approval. With that in mind, you want to make sure you’re doing whatever you can to increase the likelihood of approval. 

What is a Prototype?

Prototypes are initial preliminary versions of a final product. Winning products can go through multiple iterations before the final version comes to life.

It’s an early concept brought off the page, or out of your mind, and into the real world. Knowing how to make a product prototype may seem like a hassle to the uninitiated, but it’s well worth the investment.

How to Make a Prototype of an Idea: The Benefits

There are numerous benefits that can be realized when you decide to make a prototype for the first time. The following are just a few:

  • Improve on the final design.
  • Get a firm idea of product specifications.
  • Discover potential design problems.
  • Testing for durability.
  • Get end-user feedback.
  • Present your idea to investors.

The initial investment in prototyping can pay dividends, and increases your likelihood of bringing your life-changing invention to market.

Developing Your Product Prototype

Figuring out how to make a product prototype can seem confusing and intimidating if it’s your first time.

Follow this step-by-step guide to get started.

Step One – Research Similar Products on the Market

You’re likely wondering how to get an idea made into a prototype. A wonderful starting point is figuring out if there is a lucrative market for your idea.

Carry out market research into similar products. If a popular product already resembles yours, it may be time to go back to the drawing board. Keep in mind that if your idea is similar to someone else’s, trying to sell it may infringe upon someone else’s patent. This is why it’s important to lay the proper groundwork before you embark upon the journey of prototyping.

Step Two – Create a Concept Sketch

Begin mapping out your idea and bringing it to life by transcribing it from your head, and putting it down on paper. You don’t need to have any specialist drawing skills to create a concept sketch.

Some people recommend hiring someone else to manage this aspect, but nobody knows your idea better than you do.

Create a rough sketch and gradually flesh it out. Sketch out different angles of your product and any unique components that make it work.

Digital drawing software can be used,  but if you prefer to use pencil and paper that’s okay, too. The end goal is simply to get a raw version of your prototype into a visual representation by whatever means you’re comfortable with.

Step Three – Take it Virtual

During the prototyping process, you’ll need to create a digital sketch at some point. The gold standard for this is Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software.

CAD software uses the power of computing to create a digital sketch, and render it in both 2D and 3D. When working out how to get a prototype made, this is an essential step.

Most professionals use AutoCAD for this process. There are also other tools like Quadro, NVIDIA Iray, and CATIA Live Rendering for animating and bringing your product to life.

It’s wise to get a professional designer to help you with this step if you’re unfamiliar, as CAD does come with a steep learning curve.

Step Four – Build a Physical Model

The final step in how to prototype a product is to, finally, build a physical model. If you have the skill, you may wish to do this yourself. Otherwise, the easiest answer for how to get a prototype made is to employ the services of a professional prototype designer.

If you only have a small budget, you could always seek the services of a handyman or an industrial design student.

Building a physical model is essential not just for showing your product to prospective investors, but to work out any design flaws that cannot be seen through digital rendering.

Tips for Creating Your Product Prototype

  • Keep it simple. Make detailed advancements later.
  • Avoid falling into the perfectionist trap.
  • Sign NDA agreements with collaborators.
  • Use lesser quality materials to save on costs.
  • Don’t be afraid to make multiple prototypes.
  • Test, test, test.
  • Employ a focus group to evaluate your prototype.


Building a prototype for the first time can be an arduous task for those without the necessary technical skills and experience. We hope that some of the tips we’ve provided here will assist you in making your dream a reality.

Once you’ve completed your prototype, take the next step to market by investing in TradeBeyond’s app. Our app helps you connect with the buyers who can bring your product to life.

Contact us to learn more about how our app can make your inventions a commercial reality. We can also walk you through the process of how to get your product in stores

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