In search for shared characteristics of physical and virtual prototypes

DS 122: Proceedings of the Design Society: 24th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED23)

Year: 2023
Editor: Kevin Otto, Boris Eisenbart, Claudia Eckert, Benoit Eynard, Dieter Krause, Josef Oehmen, Nad
Author: Zorn, Stefan; Hemmer, Michael; Gericke, Kilian
Series: ICED
Institution: University of Rostock
Section: Design Methods
Page(s): 2265-2274
DOI number:


Prototyping is essential for knowledge acquisition and, thus, for informed decision-making in product development. The gold standard is still the use of physical prototypes. However, with the increase in computing capacity, it is becoming easier also to use virtual prototypes.

The selection of prototyping approaches often starts with the distinction between physical and virtual prototypes and therefore excluding a broad range of possibilities early on.

This paper explains why a selection of prototypes based on the distinction between physical and virtual is not necessarily the best solution and suggests a selection approach based on characteristics which offer the possibility to avoid this limitation. Therefore the characteristics of physical prototypes commonly used in literature are analysed and reduced to a generally valid selection. Examples of virtual prototypes are selected and analysed regarding their characteristics. All elaborated characteristics are then tested for their applicability to the examples of virtual prototypes.

Keywords: Virtual Prototype, Evaluation, Physical Prototype, Product modelling / models, New product development

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