June 2021

Spotlight on Aesthetic and Concept Models

In this article, we discuss both aesthetic and concept models to find out how each can benefit your project and at what stage. We’ll take you through what you need to consider whether you require a basic MDF spatial model or a beautifully finished, exacting looks-like production model.

What is an aesthetic model?

The main aim of an aesthetic prototype is to create a physical representation of how the product will look and feel in production. A model like this is usually made for photo or video shoots to help promote the product, or perhaps the design team wants a prototype to test out various colourways.

An aesthetic model can be commissioned for the design team to physically examine the overall design and sign it off before the Design for Manufacture (DFM) process begins. It is common that aesthetic models will have elements of functionality and movement to help portray the overall vision of the end product.

What is a concept model?

A concept model is usually commissioned, at an early stage and typically before an aesthetic model, because it is used to check the design’s proof of concept. The feasibility, form, size and basic information is commonly reviewed by using a concept model. An enhanced design and specification can then be developed which may require an aesthetic model, functional model or prototype with greater design details to be created.

What are the key processes employed for this?

When Ogle is approached about producing a model, one of the first questions we always ask is ‘what will the model be used for?’ This will determine the processes and materials we use to produce the best quality prototype.

You may already have a Colour Materials Finish (CMF) document at this stage or need support to explore colour options for your part. We will also consider, depending on the use of the model, what level of accuracy, level of detail and finishing is required. This is because a lot of detailed refinement impacts which process and materials we recommend.


There is a long list of approaches that are available to us when it comes to making a model or prototype, which include CNC machining, traditional model making, paint and finishing, 3D printing including SLA and SLS. Other processes, such as vacuum casting, is better suited to the latter stages of development when specific properties are needed for pre-production testing or low-volume production.

What materials can be used?

At this stage in product development, the commissioned model is likely to be a 3D print, or CNC machined model-board, painted to look like production parts. It may also be possible to produce the model, or various elements, in the specified production materials. But, at Ogle, we understand budgets can be tight and we are always sympathetic to that, so we will provide multiple options to fit the timescales given.

However, the end-use must always be taken into account, so although paint can be used specifically to replicate the look of a part, there are lots of materials that are available to us which will deliver exacting finishes.


For example, with model board, the higher the density, the more detail you’ll be able to examine. However, this adds weight and costs. A lighter density may be cheaper, but you may not see the level detail needed for an effective design review.

Following receipt of a detailed brief, we will always come back to the client with the selected process, material and finishing options first before we move onto the next stage.

What are the common misconceptions about this type of model?

Incorporating functionality is not normally a huge additional cost and very often worth investing into at this stage. However, customers very often think it will be expensive. But we find that it can be completely affordable, especially when multiple processes and materials are on hand from 3D printing and CNC machining to traditional model making.

By using the latter, we can ensure the working parts of the models move and function as they were intended, without the need for the mechanism design to be finalised at this early stage. Instead, we can make it work to prove the concept, without the need for lengthy design hours. If you’d like to see an example of our work in action, please click here to read the Koringa case study.

If your design has important details, please don’t be afraid to add them in at this stage, it won’t represent a significant cost increase especially when 3D printing your part.

If you’ve got a project you’d like to discuss, contact our team today on 01462 682661 or view our recent projects here.

Want to talk?

For more information about this article or to speak to one of our expert team, call us
on +44 (0) 1462 682 661 or email us at [email protected].