Product Design Models, what they are, how and what they are used for, have changed dramatically over the last 25 years. Back then, most anything that was designed went through at least some iteration of physical modeling. From paper models to foam form studies, all the way up to ultra-realistic "looks exactly like a production piece" visual models, there was a need and desire to have, hold, and see something "real". 

With advances in 3D CAD modeling and photo-realistic rendering capabilities, many involved in product design and development were able to move away from the need for physical models in favor of digital images for their design review and verification needs. Why build a model for a photo shoot when you could simply create a nice image from the most basic of CAD files?

The answer to that question is simple: Sometimes an object simply needs to be made. No digital image can convey the heft or balance of a well designed tool, the hand-feel of a device that was truly designed with ergonomics of the user in mind, or the nuance of fine detail in direct relation to existing, real-world components. 

At MODAL Design Works we pride ourselves on the rich and diverse history of product development Models & Mock Ups that we've had the pleasure of working on. We can, and do, make literally everything from foam form studies to all-out "looks like, feels like" visual models that often look better than the "real" products that follow.

Typical "Gray Model" used for Design Evaluation: combination of 3D Printed & Machined parts, fully Finished & Painted

Fully Detailed Visual Model: Machined and Polished aluminum and acrylic details combined with Fully Finished & Painted REN components.

Visual Models combining Machined & Fabricated Components with OEM hardware, Fully Finished to create exact "Looks Like, Feels Like" Design Evaluation Models.

Visual Model combining Machined ABS & REN parts with 3D Printed parts, Full Finishing & Painting, and Graphics Application.

Machined & Finished Visual Model used for Design and Ergonomic Evaluation.

Great example of a Visual Model consisting of Machined Plastic and 3D Printed parts; Full Finishing and Painting with Colors & Textures matched to Client specs.

Machined, 3D Printed, and Cast Urethane Functional Parts & Prototypes

MODAL led this project from design refinement and prototyping through engineering, tooling design, manufacturing, and importing final product. More product info at

Foam Form Model and prototype created from the foam