Why And How Prototypes Matter
Bringing our COVVI prototype to life has been a labour of love in every sense of both terms and has been months in the making, but why do manufacturers even bother with prototypes when we could theoretically build to sell straight away? We’re going to explore a little about what prototypes are all about, the process of building one and the overall purpose they serve in getting us ready for full commercial launch.
To put it plainly, prototypes are a fundamentally important testing tool and product development punching bag, essentially. After months of theorising, drawing up designs on paper and on CAD, and 3D printing in various materials, it is a relief to have received all of our COVVI components delivered, made-to-measure, and assembled to see if the actuality reflects the hypothetical. In general, no matter how hard engineers try, and often due to unavoidable extraneous factors, something is bound to not come out exactly as planned and so it is essential to figure out what parts don’t quite work in their size or function at this stage rather than further down the line.
Especially when working with relatively small objects such as prosthetic hands, there’s often a huge number of parts that are needed to fit in a very compact space, making it almost inevitable that an already tight-fit design will need to be revised upon reflection of the physical reality of our prototype.
Once the initial stage of getting everything to go in the right place is sorted, involving much dissembling and reassembling, our poor prototype and its revised versions to follow will be put through their paces with considerable testing. In other words, we’re going to try and break it in as many ways possible and continue to do so until reasonable durability and resistance requirements have been met. As fun as it will be frustrating, this is another really crucial stage of pre-launch development so that we can ensure recipients of the COVVI Hand will have a product they can rely on, and can even afford to be a little human with (i.e. A bit clumsy).
The final step after impact testing will be patient trials where our growing community of ambassadors will be sampling the COVVI Hand for themselves, inside and outside clinical settings to see how it works in real life. We are excited to be led by the people who actually benefit from wearing prosthetics and so this will be a fantastic first run-through of our collaborative approach to developing and refining the COVVI hand with users in mind.
Getting here has involved many long-hour days, buying sets of tools, setting up mechanical and electrical workshops, overseeing a continuous delivery of parts from loads of suppliers across the globe, and endless tinkering. All of that for a humble prototype! But we love it, as a physical manifestation of how far we’ve come and offers us much-needed hope for the future; that this is really happening, and we really are going to change many lives together forever (our favorite motto!)