There are often two ways of doing something: fast and recklessly or slow and carefully. Real world design testing is often pushed aside because, although it does give good feedback, it often slows the manufacturing process down. Fortunately, with the help of the latest technology, the careful route has become faster than ever.
Real world testing has become a big part of iterative design. At its heart, iterative design involves creating prototypes and evaluating them. Once a prototype is evaluated, a new one is made. This cycle repeats until the final design is reached.
While it may be difficult to admit that a design needs to be tried and tested a number of times, iterative design is often the safest way to ensure that the end product meets it’s requirements. A barrier to this in the past was the slow turn around time of manual prototyping. These days almost everything can be automated, even prototyping.
In same instances, iterative design can enable extraordinary results. One that comes to mind is the marshmallow challenge. The challenge involves teams of 4 people who must elevate a marshmallow as high as they can using only 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string and 18 minutes. What’s extraordinary is that kindergarteners built higher structures than the average team of adults. Why? Because they designed iteratively. This makes you wonder what the adults could have done if they too had also used iterative design.
While delivering outstanding results, iterative design also cuts costs. By avoiding costly mistakes, teams using iterative design can save resources or instead allocate them toward making their project better.
Simulation, to a degree, can also be used in iterative design. Our team often uses CAD and simulation for this purpose, and we save on waste because of it. It is important to note, however, that there are limits to what simulation alone can do. It is still very important to physically build most designs in order to fully evaluate them.
Another advantage to iterative design is that it enables feedback from more people. Building a prototype and running it through a focus group can often provide valuable insights. After all, a product may indeed work in theory, but if it doesn’t attract buyers then it won’t be nearly as successful.
One of iterative design’s greatest strengths is its flexibility. Where as normal design procedures don’t have a working design until the very end, iterative design often starts with a functional, if basic, design. This means that if other projects take priority then the design is still useful, if not totally refined. The project is also easier to pick back up because it is well defined, enabling a team to restart a sidelined project more efficiently.
Finally, iterative design also enables project accountability. Progress is easy to gauge between iterations and the prototypes made serve as physical reminders of the team’s accomplishments. This can lead to better motivation and team engagement, increasing productivity and decreasing the total time for the project.
If your project needs metal fabrication prototyping, let us know. Our team is happy to work with you so that your project is a success. You can get a free quote for more information on how we can serve your project.