Mock-up & prototyping, or why physical models are the best tools

3D files allow us to design and visualise products with great precision. But 3D files are often misleading and when moulds are done, any late found problem usually leads to huge loss of time and money.

But thanks to a rel­ev­ant test­ing strategy and the right mock-ups/prototyping stages, we can avoid more than 95% of prob­lems. For example, it is impossible to veri­fy that a product is truly ergo­nom­ic or really work­ing without test­ing it in real life. Testing the stye is also essen­tial, as tiny details that are vis­ible in 3D are in fact often too small to be seen/perceived in real life. Mock-ups solve those prob­lems, as we can test the design and optim­ise it. With pro­to­types, com­plex tech­nic­al prob­lems can be more eas­ily iden­ti­fied and new solu­tions can be found and val­id­ated. We can also val­id­ate all the para­met­ers of a product before cre­at­ing the moulds, which is essen­tial to avoid massive loss of times and money.

Nickel-Chrome, development strategy + industrial design + engineering, certification & manufacturing management.

Our approach

We are working with an international iterative design process. Therefore, each stage is validated and approved before going to the next.

Having those reg­u­lar check points is the best way for you and us to con­trol the pro­gres­sion of the pro­jects. At each stage, we give you our explan­a­tions, jus­ti­fic­a­tions and recom­mend­a­tions, as indus­tri­al design must remain prag­mat­ic at all times and in regards of object­ive criteria.

Nickel-Chrome, an ally at all steps

Here is a typical mock-up analysis for a portable hand sanitizer. The client wanted 100ml capacity. We told him it would be too big for a handbag… And we were right.

From left to right, pic­tures of the first mock-up of 100ml capa­city (pic­ture 1 and pic­ture 2), in the hands of an asi­an woman with small hands (around 150mm). The product size is OK for an indoor use and the shape is ergo­nom­ic. But for a hand­bag or a coat pock­et, it is way too big.

The cli­ent agreed with our ana­lys­is and we did sev­er­al 3D ver­sions of the product, with dif­fer­ent sizes and capa­city. We prin­ted them on paper at scale 1 before order­ing a new mock-up.

Picture 3 (on the right) is the final res­ult, with a capa­city of 60ml.

100ml ini­tial mock-up closed.

100ml ini­tial mock-up opened.

From left to right: 100ml ini­tial mock-up / final col­our mock-up / second mock-up.

3 kinds of models

The mock-up / prototyping service is used at different stages of the entire process and involves different kinds of models, so it is very important to carefully select the right kind of model for the right reason at each step.

The foam / grey mock-up

A cheap mod­el, easy to make in foam or plastic. It is used to check shapes, sizes, pro­por­tions and ergonomics.

Grey mock-ups are usu­ally done dur­ing the cre­at­ive research.

The colour mock-up

An inter­me­di­ate mod­el, easy to make and a bit more expens­ive. It is often in late stage of indus­tri­al design to check style, shapes, sizes, pro­por­tions and ergonomics.

Colour mock-up are usu­ally done dur­ing the design finalisation.

The prototype

An advanced mod­el that is more expens­ive to make and usu­ally done at dif­fer­ent stages dur­ing the engin­eer­ing and tri­al pro­duc­tion. There are many kinds of pro­to­types, as some can be made only to test some ele­ments of the future product.

Prototypes can be used to check the same things as mock-ups, but also: fea­tures, spe­cific­a­tions, noise, res­ist­ance to shocks, dur­ab­il­ity, weight…

Our prototyping equipments

We simply work with the best prototype makers available in China and we prepare ourselves  all the 3D models. We provide you with a prototyping strategy + quotations before starting any prototyping or model making work.