223: Mechanical Prototype Parts vs Pre-Production Prototype Parts

223: Mechanical Prototype Parts vs. Pre-Production Parts for Plastic Inventions

April 26, 2024

With Tim Uys, Director of Design at MAKO Design + Invent

Hosted by Kevin Mako, President of MAKO Design + Invent

223: Mechanical Prototype Parts vs. Pre-Production Parts for Plastic Inventions
223: Mechanical Prototype Parts vs. Pre-Production Parts for Plastic Inventions

For nearly a decade, Tim Uys has spearheaded a diverse myriad of design initiatives as the Director of Design at MAKO Design + Invent. During his 25 years in the industrial design and mechanical engineering domains, he has made impactful contributions in senior design leadership and education roles, as well as to renowned companies such as Dell, Nike Golf, Qualcomm, and Ironman. Today, Tim draws from his abundant experience to enlighten modern inventors, startups, and small manufacturers on the disparities between mechanical and pre-production prototypes for plastic components. He will divulge the essential design for manufacturing prerequisites and offer insight into optimizing the plastic product design, engineering, and prototyping journey for maximum efficiency.

Here are the key takeaways from the episode:

  • What are the key differences between a mechanical prototype and a pre-production prototype, and why are they both so important?
  • Most hardware inventions are either entirely or mainly made of plastic or – at a minimum – have some plastic components.
  • The mechanical prototype helps validate the primary mechanism of the design and the overall invention idea.
  • The pre-production prototype is the phase in which you put the product design into its intended final format that will be suitable for mass production and work on shaping each of the components to optimize for that format.
  • During this transition, you will learn whether the plastic is strong enough for the product to function as it should or whether other types of plastic need to be used.
  • There is a wide variety of different types of plastic, and they all have different uses.
  • Once you finalize the materials selection, the next step is to choose which processes you will use, such as injection moulding.
  • Injection moulding can be an incredibly complex process, especially if your design includes various angles beyond a simple right angle.
  • A lot of hardware startups skip this entire step in the product development process and choose to proceed to manufacturing with concept CAD. However, they are missing 3 key prototyping stages: the Rough Prototype, the Mechanical Prototype, and the Pre-Production Prototype, which ensure all details are ironed out.
  • Skipping these stages could cost you money and time down the line if something is missed and you have to go back to the drawing board.
  • The fewer features you have for your starter product as a startup, the easier it is to go through all these steps and the more refined each feature will be. 
  • Keep your feature creep to a minimum. You can add additional features later on! Don’t overcomplicate your design.

Tim Uys Links:

LinkedIn | Make48 Feature

The Product Startup Podcast Links:


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MAKO Design + Invent Links:


YouTube | Instagram | LinkedIn | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

Kevin Mako Links:

Instagram | LinkedIn | Quora | Facebook | Twitter

Producer: MAKO Design + Invent is the original firm providing world-class consumer product development services tailored to startups, small manufacturers, and inventors. Simply put, we are the leading one-stop shop for developing your physical product from idea to store shelves, all in a high-quality, cost-effective, and timely manner. We operate as one powerhouse 30-person product design team spread across 4 offices to serve you (Austin, Miami, San Francisco, & Toronto). We have full-stack in-house industrial design, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, patent referral, prototyping, and manufacturing services. To assist our startup and inventor clients, in addition to the above, we help with business strategy, product strategy, marketing, and sales/distribution for all consumer product categories.