Creating prototypes is a great way to present your work in progress to your team. However, without the right prototyping tools, you may end up pushing your project back if making your model takes too long.
Without seeing a realistic version of your product, you can even end up scrapping a great product because it doesn’t seem viable!
When your team can see a functional or lookalike prototype, it’s easier to gain feedback and buy-in for the next iteration. But creating physical prototypes don’t have to be expensive or take a long time.
Check out these must-have prototyping tools and let your inspiration take shape!
1. SubDivFormer – Prototyping Tools
The first step of creating your minimum viable product (MVP) is bringing your 2D sketches into a 3D environment.
Free prototyping tools are the best option for early in the design process, and this free iPhone and Android app is an excellent substitute for expensive CAD software. With this tool, you can quickly form and transform a model to bring your product to life.
Models designed in SubDivFormer can be directly sent to a 3D printer. This can remove some steps from your iterating and help you see issues with your prototype before your presentation.
This all-in-one design tool is a great way to create early iterations and garner feedback from your whole team.
The intuitive interface allows you to design multiple pieces and see how they fit together in a CAD environment. You can even share your prototype files with other team members who don’t have access to the app!
Augmented reality features let you picture your prototype in your environment before you spend money creating a physical prototype. This makes it easy to scale your model and design the right size in relation to real life. This powerful UI prototyping app is a must for any design team.
Those looking to turn drawings into their first realistic model will love SketchUp. The free version of this software is a great tool for new CAD users to create a prototype from a sketch or using the extensive 3D model library as a jumping-off point.
If you’re designing the first few versions of your product, this tool is a great way to create an inexpensive model to start rapid prototyping. In one click, you can easily print your prototype and get started on your product creation journey.
4. Fusion 360
The Fusion 360 app is a robust tool that offers a realistic view of your new product. It combines CAD, CAE, and CAM tools for a powerful design experience that helps you take a big step toward a viable prototype. Taking the next step with additive manufacturing is easy using this app.
This prototyping app supports over 100 file types, so it likely works with the tools you already use in the office. Plus, sharing designs between your computer and your phone is simple. You can even share it with your executive team to gather feedback directly in the app!
5. Kramer KRC Reality Viewer – Prototyping Tools
If you’re looking to present how your product looks in different environments, the Kramer KRC Reality Viewer is a fantastic presentation tool. This free app lets you show your team and prospective buyers in augmented reality. You can even click on different parts of your product to show practical product information, offering a self-led demonstration.
From here, it’s easy to 3D print your first lookalike prototype and show off how the item works in person. This free tool can save you substantial time and money on rapid prototyping.
6. Etoolbox Mobile CAD Viewer
This powerful app is a product designer’s dream! If your product requires detailed specs and design features, Etoolbox Mobile CAD Viewer is the tool for you. This tool is great for layering and showing off the full functionality of your new product’s design.
With an extensive suite of 2D and 3D design tools, the possibilities are endless. Plus, this free Android app integrates with a ton of third-party tools to offer an all-in-one solution for your design team.
Blender is one of the best free prototyping tools available. This open-source creation program is perfect for taking your designs to the next level and getting them ready for the printing process. Motion tracking and video editing capabilities can help step up your presentation before printing.
One of the benefits of Blender is easily making interlocking parts. Seeing how the parts work together is an integral part of later stage design, and this product helps you create models that are ready for physical creation.
Cover every step of the prototyping process in one free, easy-to-use program before you start fabricating show models.
If you’re looking for true engineering capabilities in your prototyping tool, CATIA is the way to go.
This impressive tool can help you create late-stage prototypes for products with advanced functioning needs for electrical and mechanical engineering projects. While CATIA is an advanced tool, this is a must-have for presenting how engineering projects will look and operate.
Creating many physical prototypes in industries like aerospace, medical, and automotive can be prohibitively expensive. CATIA is designed for advanced CAD users to create presentations that get you the green light for the physical prototype design.
Designing the physical prototype is only part of the process. To create a strong presentation, you’ll need to ensure each aspect of the prototype is completed on time. That’s where ProductPlan comes in.
Project management tools are a must for any design project, and ProductPlan is specifically designed for managing rapid prototyping projects. This road mapping software can help track feedback and next steps for new prototype iterations. A functional management tool is an absolute must for any effective prototyping project, and this one gets the job done.
10. LaTex – Prototyping Tools
Once you’re ready to present your model, LaTex makes it easy to add a 3D model to a PDF.
Using this tool can make sharing your designs in a boardroom easier than ever. This free software is designed to make presenting your technical information a breeze, so it’s essential for your next roundtable discussion.
Find the Right Prototyping Tools for Your Project
The best prototyping tools help get you to market quicker. Making a physical design isn’t always the most cost-effective first step, so these useful tools can help you garner feedback and create a high-quality prototype before you send it to the printer.
Ready to start printing? We offer on-demand printing options that are right for your project. Get a quote today and be prepared for your next presentation!