Prototyping, Evaluation and Testing

Eliminate risk, execute design sprints, and accelerate your path-to-volume production with prototyping.


Video: Learn how and why we develop prototypes

Trusted to Design, Develop, and Engineer Manufacture-Ready Products for Startups and the World’s Most Innovative Brands

Get the Right Prototype for Your Project Needs

We Offer 3 Distinct Types of Prototyping Services So You can get the Right Prototype for your Project Requirements

Rapid Prototypes

Our in-house rapid prototype shop is equipped with 3D-Printing, SLA, and CNC machines, allowing for fast turn around of prototype parts.

We often prototype parts and components throughout the product development process to assess their fit, form, and function.

The prototype technique we use is dependent on the quality, time and functional requirements for the part.

Interactive MVP Prototypes

Building a minimum-viable-product (MVP) prototype helps you test user experience early in the product development process.

Our design and engineer team construct creative ways to prototype your interactive product idea early-on in development.

This process allows you to quickly get user feedback and refine the functionality, saving you time and development cost over the course of your project.

Electronics Prototypes

Before diving into custom Printed Circuit Board (PCB) design, start with breadboards and off-the-shelf (OTS) electronics to de-risk your project.

Turning to OTS parts and dev boards early-on in development allows you to quickly transition from concept to physical product for user testing.

Once key features and functionality are defined, we then help you access whether a custom component vs. OTS is best for your product and business goals.

What You’ll Get With Our Prototype Manufacturing Services

Understand your product/market fit by testing your key hypotheses before moving to production.

Hypothesis Testing

Did you know 70% of a product cost is locked in during the early design stage of a product development process?

The best solutions start with manufacturing knowledge incorporated into the very early concept stage of design where it matters most.

At the very start of your project, you will be working with a senior manufacturing expert to get upfront key item costing and begin sourcing the best partners for your project. Their expertise and network can streamline the manufacturing process and deliver high-quality results.

Product/Market Fit Viability

Put your product on the path to success by determining the right product/market fit with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) prototype.

For hardware, building an MVP prototype is critical to test and refine a physical product idea. Hardware MVP prototypes range from high-fidelity production quality models for tradeshows to rudimentary low-fidelity prototypes for fast turnaround evaluation and usability testing.

You’ll get the right kind of prototype you need to verify product/market fit.

Prototypes for Production

Before moving into high volume production, it’s important to make sure everything is set.

Alpha Production Intent Prototypes mimic your volume manufacturing process and allow engineers, regulators, and users to carefully assess the quality and function of your product

We provide you with Alpha prototypes so you can move into high-volume production with confidence.

Types of Prototypes We Help You Build

We use prototypes to help identify and solve business, technical, and manufacturing risks.

Rapid Prototyping

Meeting your needs for fast turnaround of prototype parts, our in-house rapid prototype shop can:

  • Fulfill all document requirements
  • Produce high-level partitioning and block diagrams
  • Identify and standardize key interfaces, data formats, and data base structures
  • Evaluate available 3rd party IP
  • Undertake firmware design, coding, and testing
  • Define embedded hardware and software architectures

Connected Product Prototyping

Providing you with a full range of PC board design services, we can:

  • Undertake analog, digital, optical, and RF design
  • Develop wireless systems, including Wi-Fi/WLAN (802.11), Bluetooth®, GPS, Cellular, RFID, ZigBee®
  • Create power systems including, custom BUC/BOOST, battery management and solar power management
  • Do electronic circuit design and schematic capture
  • Fulfill AC/DC and DC/DC design for high battery life
  • Do board layout, including mixed signal/high speed/high layer count (Allegro®, Altium®, PADS®)

Benchmodel Test Prototypes

We create a variety of prototypes based on your needs:

  • Form Study Prototype
  • User Experience Prototype
  • Scale Model Prototype
  • Component Prototype
  • Interactive Prototype
  • Rapid Prototype
  • Material Testing Prototype
  • Assembly/Disassembly Prototype
  • Alpha and Beta Prototypes
  • Virtual Prototype/Digital Twin
  • Massing Model

Prototyping Technology

Using a mix of in-house prototype tools and vetted contractors we develop prototypes via following methods:

  • Additive 3D Printing
  • CNC Milling
  • Precision Laser Cutting
  • Silicone Vacuum Casting
  • Plastic Injection Molding
  • Quick Turn Tooling
  • Clay & Foam Modeling
  • Metal Wireframes
  • Paper Mock-ups
  • High-density Foam Carving
  • Lathe Turning
  • Electronic Breadboarding


What Clients Say About Working With Design 1st

George Tsintzouras

Director of Product, Christie Digital

Immediately understood what was needed

When we wanted to transition our older generation projector models to a more modern look and feel, Design 1st was a valuable asset. Given the depth of their design and engineering experience, Design 1st immediately understood what was needed. They worked with our internal engineering team through the process to provide us with compatible solutions to meet our needs.

Stephen Rayment

VP Engineering, Ericsson

Our trusted engineering partner for six years

Design 1st has been our trusted industrial design and mechanical engineering partner for over six years and they have proven themselves to be valuable, competent and committed to our success. They add value because they understand the tradeoffs between user value and cost, the need to balance both the business and product objectives, along with excellent knowledge of materials and manufacturing / tooling options.

Mike Tettenborn

VP Engineering, Caframo

Right balance of art and engineering

We selected Design 1st because their designers and engineers demonstrated the right creativity and technical understanding. With their CAD and modelling tools they were able to address the numerous design challenges encountered with this type of product. The end result was an easy-to-install, powerful marine hatch fan – unlike any on the market.

Kurt Francis

Co-Founder, CTO, Molecule

Deepest bench of technical talent

I did a lot of due diligence on product development companies and Design 1st had the deepest bench for technical capability. They worked on such a broad range of products with successful commercialization. Design 1st’s early efforts in prototype development helped us move from a powder substrate into a commercially product for testing.

John Lupton

Director of Engineering, GeoSight

Got up and running fast

The whole design was my idea and I had patents on them. The team’s main work was to solve the functionality issue of a piece of my design. On top of that, they helped identify one of our manufacturers.

Didi Horn


Exceeded Our Expectations

The Design 1st team exceeded our expectations and helped us deliver an exceptional product to the market. As a startup, we were working within a budget but expected the highest quality product. Design 1st identified the risks up front, had the vast network of partners to find the right components, and customized it to meet our unique needs.

Fully Certified and Award-Winning

Our company and staff are certified with the Professional Engineers of Ontario and with ACIDO certified Industrial Designers of Ontario. We are also affiliated with Carleton University.

A Tailored Team of Experts

When You Work With Design 1st, You’re Accessing a Tailored, Cross-Functional Team of Specialists Customized for Your Specific Project. As Your Project Evolves, So Too Does the Team Working on It, So You Get Only the Most Expert People Providing Input Every Step of the Way

Embedded Systems

Seamless integration of electronics into physical devices.

Embedded Design Team

Mechanical Engineering

Find creative mechanical solutions to technical challenges.

Mechanical Design Team

Industrial Design

Transform your product concept into a refined manufacture-ready design.

Industrial Design Team

Electronics Engineering

Add power, secure connectivity, and interaction control to your products.

Electronic Design Team

Transfer to Manufacturing

Move your product into volume manufacturing.

Manufacture Transfer Team

Design Strategy

Set your new product up for success with a well-laid plan.

Design Strategy Team

Frequently Asked Questions

The answer depends on the nature of the work you hire us to do. The work may be support-related where we contribute design or engineering services to your product development team and process. The time required varies from a week to much longer depending on the activities you require from us. When our team takes your product concept from the idea stage all the way to a working product, it may take from 3 to 12+ months to complete the 4-stage design-engineering-prototyping and transfer to manufacturing process. It depends on the complexity of the product being designed.

Once the design concept is captured, engineering decisions are finalized and the product is 3D prototyped and documented, making it possible for manufacturers to bid on making the product in volume.

Our creative design, engineering and manufacturing transfer team finds solutions that differentiate your product and delivers the ‘I love it’ user response. Your design is carefully created to meet product cost that meets business needs. The documentation is well-defined and managed with manufacturers that want to produce it.

Our manufacturing setup experts will help you identify and secure trusted part suppliers and a contract manufacturer (CM) onshore, or offshore, depending your product objectives and needs.

We can facilitate the prototyping and product builds, from helping coordinate the CM and parts supplier relationships, to overseeing product batch builds, injection tooling approvals, release controlled documentation, quality plans, regulatory testing, Bill of Materials managements, and parts supply coordination.

Yes, we can navigate, negotiate, document and fine-tune product quality during the initial production batch builds and through to continuous production.

Our process ensures we bring value during the development stage, and we transition the product management as your operations team decides to take over manufacturing control.

However, if your business objectives require a more virtual, low-overhead operation, we can also stay on how to facilitate batch production builds.

The Design 1st team works with strategic business teams looking to reduce risk and cost and maximize product value.

We are an excellent fit for business teams new to hardware product development who want an expert team to plug in and move their concept design to volume production. We are experts at network products, wireless app and cloud integrations

Our diverse team of planners, designers, engineers, electronics and supply strategy experts makes the transition from product concept to manufacturing a much more predictable process.

NDA’s ensure confidentiality for both parties during conversations. We provide a mutual NDA where the terms apply to both parties. If your organization has an NDA that requires our signature, we handle this through email.

Development is a multiple-month effort. We recommend that funding is ready for the first few months as we are a work-for-hire organization and new projects require a deposit to start the work, typically covering the first months’ effort.

Designing a new hardware product starts with exploring possible Concept Designs (CD).

Our business, marketing and design teams work with you to plan out key product requirements then configure one, or more, potential product concepts to test and verify with users and buyers.

Our experienced development team will then facilitate and help you define the many product requirements, carry out the creative design and engineering process, examine manufacturing feasibility, and provide an ongoing estimate of the direct product cost as details are filled in and decisions on parts and quality are made.

For a new product concept, the design exploration and the product architecture definition stages typically take 200+ hours, but this timeline depends on the user buyer definition, complexity, and customization of the design relative to product in the market, the number of custom components required, product safety requirements, and the amount of documentation required.

Expert fully integrated product Design / Engineering teams in North America have rates from $125 to $400 USD per hour.

After a phone discussion, we can provide a design budget, based on your project’s specific needs.

Call us for a discussion: 1.877.235.1004 or click here for more information on our development stages.

The Measures Taken To Ensure Prototype Manufacturing Success

Design 1st integrates our knowledge and expertise with yours to bring your product idea to life.