Alejandro Turell on the digitalisation of prototyping
When we think of an invention, we often overlook the process behind the creation of a new idea and tend to focus on the end product. Charles F. Kettering once said, “An inventor fails 999 times, and if he succeeds once, he's in.”Coming up with ideas that are feasible is clearly a lengthy process, but idea generation is just the start. Once an idea has been refined, then comes the part of turning it into something real, and a critical step in this process is prototyping.
Prototyping is a critical step in the development process with the objective to test the flow and accuracy of a design solution and gather feedback on it – from both internal and external parties – before constructing the final product. This process has evolved over the years and now inventors have a range of options to turn their golden idea into a physical item.
Challenges of prototyping
One of the most common routes to prototype is to engage an engineering consultancy. Over the years, this model of inventors handing over their ideas to a group of consultants has become one of the most utilised options. There has been a perception that their knowledge and design and engineering fill the gaps in experience and ability of inventors. However, over time it has become increasingly evident among a growing number of inventors that this approach presents a number of barriers and limitations. The significantly high cost of collaborating with a consultancy, alongside the slow turnaround times and loss of project control are some of the major challenges an inventor will face. Often, they resort to building their own team of experts to help drive their idea forward, but again, this takes time and often the costs of these ‘DIY’ projects can spiral incredibly quickly for less experienced inventors. This becomes frustrating when a potentially urgent market opportunity is being missed.
From missed opportunities to burning through a budget, there is clearly a need for a remedy from the traditional consultancy approach. And with automation and technology at our disposal now more than ever, there has never been a better time for a new model.
The game changer
This where the new digital model comes in. Digital platforms, such as LastBasic, enable inventors to share their ideas with a diverse field of experts in industrial design and engineering professions from around the world. Instead of bidding via quotes, in the way a traditional consultancy might win a project, experts win the project on the platform by submitting design proposals for the inventor to choose from. This new digital approach places automation at its heart to accelerate design and prototyping, while enabling inventors to retain control and executive decision-making power.
Importantly, the priority is placed on making the best possible prototype, instead of inventors comparing quotes which invariably exclude the hidden costs traditional methods add on during the later stages. The process is then repeated for every stage of the prototyping and the control is always in the inventor’s hands within closely controlled package costs, so inventors always know what they will be paying, banishing any budgetary concerns.
Putting inventors at the heart
By pooling talent from a diverse field of expert industrial design and engineering professionals worldwide, this digital model provides the inventor with a diverse outcome of their project. LastBasic has experts compete to ‘win’ the inventor’s business and the inventor always has the best choices while retaining full control. Importantly, because the proposals are submitted by designers and engineers as part of a competition with other engineers in the community, there is a constant need for proposals to be of the highest quality – engineers are inspired and incentivised to deliver their best work. They also have the opportunity to review the work of their competition, which encourages post-project knowledge sharing and constant development.
Due to greater visibility, significant cost benefits and the elimination of inefficiencies, the digital model is being heralded as the democratisation of prototyping. There is a major paradigm shift in prototyping with the potential to accelerate innovation across any sector around the world. Digital models are making it easier, quicker, and cheaper for inventors to turn their ideas into tangible and workable solutions for today’s issues. This is an exciting development in the world of engineering and LastBasic remains focused on improving the prototyping process as it continues the digital transformation.
Alejandro Turell is CEO at LastBasic