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Modelling and testing

Ideas can be tested in a variety of ways ranging from thinking it through in your head or discussing it with others to building a full-scale prototype of the product or process. One of the most effective ways of testing ideas is by modeling.

Different types of models

Concept models

These are used in the early stages of design to experiment with a range of ideas. They are usually made quickly and inexpensively from paper, card, clay, or polystyrene foam and help to visualise the product in 3D. Concept models are also known as static models or mock-ups.

Working model

A working model is used to test the function of all the parts of a design or to decide how working parts will fit together.


A prototype is exactly the same as the finished product except that it is made by hand. A prototype is fully functional and is used to evaluate a product’s design before the decision is made to manufacture the product

Get information sheet: Developing new stab and flame-resistant fabric

Get information sheet: Prototypes of functional foods

Computer modelling

Computers are commonly used to display, explain and test intended solutions for product, system, and environmental designs. Computer-based models have many advantages.


  • are often more accurate
  • can be changed easily
  • convert readily to working drawings
  • can show internal components
  • are easily manipulated in three dimensions
  • can simulate a variety of materials
  • can be used to calculate the required strength and shape of components
  • can be output to peripheral equipment that creates actual components
  • are made without physical tools and materials and are therefore often cheaper to produce than physical 3D models
  • can be viewed and worked on simultaneously from a variety of locations
  • are easily transported and displayed.


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