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Why Functional Prototypes are Worth 1,000 Expert Opinions

Posted by Brittany Beckmann on April 18, 2016

“A functional prototype is worth 1,000 expert opinions.”

Many, if not all, of those involved in the engineering community are familiar with this quote because it refers to the multitude of opinions and debates inspired by the creation of a functional prototype. Hypothetically, engineers and designers could have theoretical discussions about an intangible product, but the presence of a functional prototype effectively eliminates any abstract “what ifs.”

In the medical cart world, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what you get. Having a concept in mind and a full-sized, two-dimensional print of the product may serve on a visual level, but no one can determine the size, aesthetics and usability of a medical cart without that initial prototype.


For some reason, size is one of the most underrated characteristics of a medical cart. Even though some engineers provide a full-size print, the dimensions can only be fully appreciated in a tangible form. This allows customers and engineers to see what they’re in for because it’s hard to judge the maneuverability and quality of the functionality without being able to inspect and analyze a physical representation of your product.


As we discussed in another blog post, functional medical cart prototypes are developed for a variety of reasons, primarily testing the usability of the whole product, certain parts of it, or aesthetics. For example, let’s say a customer wants the medical cart to be blue; however, upon seeing the result, the customer may change their mind. It’s a detail that’s difficult to make a decision on without seeing the whole project. 


In the concept and engineering process, the ergonomics of the medical cart’s function may be theoretically sound. But when the functional prototype is made and tested, it might be more awkward than initially anticipated. Engineers are allowed to debate suggestions to improve usability, try new things and offer expert opinions on the matter.

Confidence Boost

All prototypes, regardless of purpose, provide peace of mind. They allow for questions to be asked and answered, and inspire further inquiries that will inevitably enhance the product. For instance, HUI had a customer who was concerned about the collapsible arm on their medical cart. After creating a functional prototype and sending a video demonstrating someone collapsing the arm, the customer’s concerns about the matter were alleviated. 

In another instance, a prototype was made to prove that the medical cart could be manufactured without tooling. Creating a process to eliminate all tooling for a piece of equipment and applying this process to build a prototype convinced the customer to make this process long-term, thus shortening the lead-time and making the project more cost effective.

“People stop thinking about an aspect of a design because they know it’s going to work,” says HUI Project Engineer, Mark Collins.

A prototype is worth 1,000 expert opinions because it allows so many inquiries and observations; it foreshadows the rest of the project and alleviates fears, concerns and questions. You can spend 20 hours thinking about a problem or 20 hours thinking about a possible solution; prototypes initiate the latter, allowing your medical cart project to excel.

If you have questions regarding your product, contact us today! We’re here to help.


Topics: Medical Cart Development

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