Software-based engineering process that includes the use of modeling in multiple dimensions and in software simulated "normal operating conditions" in order to discover weaknesses, design improvement opportunities, and general refinement before physically building a tangible prototype.
Virtual prototyping is a technique in the process of product development. It involves using computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) software to validate a design before committing to making a physical prototype. This is done by creating (usually 3D) computer generated geometrical shapes (parts) and either combining them into an "assembly" and testing different mechanical motions, fit and function or just aesthetic appeal. The assembly or individual parts could be opened in CAE software to simulate the behavior of the product in the real world.