Rapid Prototyping: Advantage & Best Practices For New Packaging Design

Sumedha Gurav

Explaining difficult concepts through simple words.
April 10, 2021

Explore the definition of rapid prototyping with advantages and best practices. Understand how rapid prototyping brands identify bottlenecks.

“ Design is thinking made visual  
                                                          - Saul Bass ”

In today’s market, user experience has become the cornerstone of a product’s packaging design. The term ‘unboxing’ is now a must-have and not just a trend in packaging development for products.      

For teams working on new packaging development or a new feature, prototyping validates design ideas. In this article, we will explore the definition of rapid prototyping, why teams need to understand the concept and its advantages.     

what is rapid prototyping

3 Advantages Of Rapid Prototyping For New Packaging Development

As a marketing manager, brand manager, or stakeholder, understanding rapid prototyping will help you effectively drive a product development project that involves packaging design.     

Our team recently worked with a major edible oil manufacturer to develop a product packaging design. The creative brief asked for an ergonomic 5-liter jar that is easy to lift and pour and also includes space for branding.

So, how did rapid prototyping help save cost and time in this project? Let's delve into the major advantages of rapid prototyping.

1) Explore Concepts At A Faster Rate

Rapid prototyping offers concept exploration with fewer risks. Perhaps, the design team has suggested many concepts that fulfill the creative brief. While virtual visualization gives a glimpse, rapid prototyping helps designers to share their ideas with detailed analysis. It’ll let the client visualize what the packaging would look and feel like, and how it functions by actually using it. 

How Did We Do It?

In our project, we developed a rapid prototype with material characteristics similar to our end product. The team was able to present the packaging design by showing how to handle, lift, and pour from the jar. It helped the client and the team to determine different parameters including shape, size, and thread profile.   

Rapid prototyping concept
Rapid prototype concept of a 5-liter jar for an edible oil manufacturer

Since the brief also called for branding space, post-processing color and finishes on the prototype helped the brand manager to make better decisions regarding labeling artworks.    

2) Effectively Incorporate Feedback 

As it is for any project, feedback improves the direction of concepts. Teams can also see the differences between concepts and choose the right idea to go ahead. Designers can implement feedback and fabricate a refined prototype, before deciding on the final version. Perhaps, the prototype looks different than the visual representation, or perhaps the packaging doesn’t stand on the shelf in the way you expect it to. 

How Did We Do It?

We conducted a user-experience study that identified a defect in the fitment of the cap. The design team was able to quickly modify the tolerance of the thread profile, so the cap could be screwed on correctly.   

3) Minimize Errors And Risks

Rapid prototyping is an affordable way to test product packaging before it goes to production. Sometimes, brands push concepts directly to production, whereupon errors might crop up. Consequently, it might affect your brand reputation or you might have to re-design packaging for improved user experience. This all will add to costs, negatively impacting your bottom line. 

Rapid prototyping can help to discover any errors and reduce any risks before moving to production. You can test for leaks, structural integrity, and usability. 

How Did We Do It?

We were able to successfully accomplish the intent of product packaging development. Rapid prototyping helped our client and team to receive quick feedback, identify defects, and conduct a detailed user-experience study. Since the rapid prototype ironed out many parameters, we were able to directly proceed to production mold manufacturing and reduce the cost of pilot molds.

Rapid Prototyping: Best Practices To Keep In Mind

1) Work In Sync 

Involve different teams to get an all-round perspective while developing a prototype. E.g., show the prototype to your manufacturer or logistics and testing team. Even if the prototype looks good, perhaps it’s not easy to mass produce or transport over long distances.  

2) The Key Is Simplicity 

If you are developing tamper-evident product packaging, add a feature that helps to secure the product and can add brand value. Adding too many features can complicate the manufacturing process, increasing lead time and cost. 

3) Remember Your Goals 

What’s your focal intent? What’s the main USP of the product? In our example, the team has to develop product packaging that has branding space and is easy-to-use. This means the packaging needs to be compact (for portability) and easy to open. 

4) It’s Not The Final Product 

While feedback improves a prototype, it’s essential to know when to stop and move ahead. Don’t keep perfecting a prototype, that’ll just increase your costs and extend timelines.   

5) Reuse, Reuse, Reuse

So, you have a pile of rejected prototypes? Don’t toss them into the bin! Often, there are common parameters in new packaging development projects according to features or industries. E.g., most personal care brands are looking for leak-proof packaging. Furthermore, the rejected prototypes can be used to pitch different ideas or even help direct future projects. 

Ready To Try Rapid Prototyping?

Now, that you have got a good understanding of rapid prototyping, you will be better prepared to handle aspects of a creative project. With teams across the globe shifting to remote working, avoid potential pitfalls, and work on a successful prototype development process. 

Our packaging design and development teams have worked with 20+ clients across industries such as food, personal care, pharmaceutical, and FMCG on new packaging development projects.   

Want to collaborate with us? Tell us more.    

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