The 3 Categories of Prototyping for Manufactured Components

A prototype is often referred to as a proof of concept. It allows you to save time and money to determine if a project is feasible. A prototype also allows you to work out any kinks in the design and make improvements before you go to large-scale production. With modern manufacturing abilities, prototyping has become the biggest cost-saver and biggest demand in manufacturing.

The turnaround time and cost effectiveness of prototyping has made the practice more popular than ever. However, there is still someambiguity to the term “prototype.” To clear up confusion there are three categories for prototyping that will help you make decisions when you go to a component manufacturer. These categories include; “looks like”, “works like”,and “looks like AND works like.”



Looks Like prototypes are used to demonstrate ideas that need development in color, shape, feel, and size. They are not always made from the final material and do not necessarily function. In the past, these prototypes have been made with wax or plastic, more recently these are being printed in 3D printers.  These prototypes are helpful for marketing and in determining cost for packaging.


Works Like prototypes are more accurately referred to as “proof of concepts.” These are examples that prove the working concepts of an idea. This type of prototype is not as concerned with aesthetics as it is with functionality. They don’t get points for looks but will provide enough information to show that the component is compatible with the larger system and can perform the functionality it was designed for.


A Looks Like and Works Like prototype is the best of both worlds and has most likely already passed through the “looks like” prototype and“works like” prototype stages. This stage marries the two purposes and usually occurs in the latter design stages in the development of a manufactured component. These prototypes may even be a reasonable representation of what an idea looks like before it goes to market.  Late-stage prototypes are usually designed after an early-stage prototype has been developed and tested.


MAECO of Oregon has a successful track record for prototyping, manufacturing, and delivering industrial and agricultural components. Whether you need to find the best quality industrial or agricultural components at a competitive price or a single custom solution, call (503) 798-5596 or email us using this link.

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