Scaled Model

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Process Phase



1 hour-2 hours



Markers, Paper, Prototyping Kit

What is a Scaled Model?

A scaled model (prototype) is a model that is either much larger or smaller than a typical prototype or an actual size model. 


Why Scaled Model?

Scaled models help the design process in that they may be experienced (tested, inspected, modeled and varied) at the scale that is convenient for human interaction.  

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Method Card Reference

DI Method Cards_Compiled Deck_Version 2.
DI Method Cards_Compiled Deck_Version 2.



Identify Key Parameters

of the system that the model should emulate.

This will help you to apply dimensional analysis for designing a scaled model and predicting its behavior. Key parameters could be dimensions of the product or functions it executes. 


Employ Scaling

methodologies to reproduce this behavior at the desired scale. 

Scaling methods have two main groups: Comparative and Non-Comparative. Comparative scaling includes paired comparison, Q-sort, Constant Sum, Rank Order techniques. Non-comparative scaling contains continuous rating and itemized rating.



Construct Scale Model

and use validation tess to ensure that the simulation is accurate. Constructing the scaled model can be done via various prototyping techniques. It is important to plan a physical prototype prior to creating a model.


Evaluate the Model 

according to the set requirements and needs. This can be both done by experiment and using software tools (CAD, FEA).

Best Practices



Whenever faced with large space requirements, cast or interfaces consider developing a scaled model, where the user testing with the model will provide the meaningful results while saving space, materials and time.


Use software/measurement tools to assist scale conversion.


Buckingham-Pi theorem is a comparative dimensional analysis that allows to design a scaled model and predict its behavior by providing scaling laws based on similarity.


Fundamental dimensions ​that can define any parameter are:

M - mass, L - length, T - time, θ -temperature, I - current,​ ψ - luminious internsity, σ - solid angle.


Demo Video

This video gives you an overview of scaled model

This video gives you a walk-through on how to apply Dimensional Analysis:


Here is an example of Scaled Model method used for AV case study and additional examples of Dimensional Analysis.


References and Additional Resources

  1. Otto, K. N., and K. L. Wood. "Product design: techniques in reverse engineering and new product development." (2001).