Psychology in Plastic Prototype Design
Form follows function. Designing for pleasing the senses while also keeping the functionality of a product is an art form. You can design a basic box. Or you can design a basic box that is visually and tactile pleasing to the end user. You can make a prototype that has the fit and functions satisfying the end users most basic requirements. BORING.
Or you can look to design for a deeper need. Experience design is designing prototype products for a psychological need. For instance, if you are targeting a primarily female audience, segue into soft touch items that are smaller and lighter. On the other hand, males predominantly would prefer a larger part that looks rugged. Stereotyping, yes. However great design is only a great design if the end user is pleased with the product. Visual and tactile sensations make a product sensational (no pun intended).
Prototype design does rely heavily upon psychology. Right about now you are probably wondering, “what in the world does psychology have to do with a rapid prototype supplier”? Usually you send in your data and out pops your prototype. No worries, if that’s what you want, you got it. Your the customer and should get what you want. However, we do provide design help. Not because it’s a bad design, but maybe we have a suggestion from our experience that might make your prototype more successful in the marketplace. Part of our value added service is give our customers access to our knowledge and experience.
For instance we might know from past experience that a certain type of chrome plating not only is more durable, but also seems to be picked more by designers looking to appeal more to a targeted audience. Chrome is great if you are trying to appeal to the need for luxury. Chromed plastic also gives added strength and durability to injection molded prototype plastic parts. Chrome plating plastic prototypes is easy when done right.
Or perhaps you have a really small curvy prototype that is destined to target the construction industry. We might recommend that while it’s ergonomic, you might want to consider a rougher texture rather than a smooth surface. Just because we know that that type of application might be better for hiding dirt and allows for a better grip. We might also recommend a different resin because it might be more durable to rough usage. On top of that, have you considered two sizes? Small and large, why not give every possible consumer of your product (male and female) a great feeling, durable looking tool.
The natural inclination is to add more thickness to create strength. That is not necessarily true in good design for manufacturing. Just like an arch in a doorway is stronger than the thickest square doorway; parts can be design engineered for additional strength. Different ribbing, draft and radius support all work together to make the component a strong robust one that will hold up better to rough handling.
You might have a product that is going to be marketed towards females. We might suggest certain ways of making the component lighter in weight. Or even the size might be too large. Will it be one more must have weighing down her purse? What about fingernails? Will a female be able to use the product with ease without worry for her expensive manicure? For that matter what about products designed for Baby Boomers, children, teenagers, families etc? There are special considerations that need to addressed for any segment of the market you are trying to capture.
The point to all of this is: A prototype supplier can just supply. Or they can be a resource and a supplier. We do both. Our goal is always to be a resource and the supplier of choice because of the support and service we provide.