Here's James Dyson, the king of vacuums, on the importance of building prototypes and the lack of prototype usage in his son's ...
Now, I'm not going to argue with the importance of building prototypes. There are qualities of a product you can really only get a feel for with something "real." Nothing on a computer screen will suffice. Virtual reality may offer an alternative, but not yet.
Still, there reaches a point where prototyping becomes rather stupid.
And I think that making 5,127 prototypes of a vacuum cleaner is very definitely past the line of reason.
No, seriously. A prototype is meant to verify a design, and they cost money. I can see a dozen, maybe two dozen prototypes for something as complex as the (original) Dyson vacuum. But five thousand? No, that's just not right.
I don't mean to say that Dyson or the Times reporter lied about this. I mean to say that Dyson, for all his fame and expertise with vacuums, just did it wrong. There are many analytic tools available to a design engineer. Most of them are far more economical, faster to develop, and far more accurate these days that building prototypes. That's not to say that prototypes serve no purposes - they do. But their usefulness is in many ways replaced by newer tools. And so one simply doesn't need that many prototypes.