You may need a prototype manufacturer to bring your products to life. Some designers can create 2D or 3D illustrations of their concepts. In some cases, these are enough. Websites and apps, for example, live within the virtual world. So, their prototypes are also created through software. However, in the industrial field, prototypes usually refer to mechanical products or devices. So, a tangible, 3-dimensional prototype can help convince clients and investors. It will also provide you with an alpha version to test and refine.
When do you need a prototype manufacturer?
Some product designs are easy to assemble on your own. You may have created versions of your concepts using makeshift materials. You may have also used actual, less expensive versions of the final materials that you need. However, some designs are too complicated to create, even if you do have a 3D printer. So, you must go to a professional manufacturer.
How do you find the right prototype manufacturer for your design?
- Be aware of the industry that your product can contribute to. What enterprise does it belong to? What materials does this industry usually utilize to make their prototypes and final products? Find out what methods potential companies go through to manufacture. This will help you zero in on the right kind of manufacturer(s).
- Prepare your pitch and business plan. You should be able to talk about your product in a one-page summary. You want something quick to engage possible manufacturers. They are working with other product designers and inventors. So, do not waste their time with a tome of explanations. Do prepare everything that you have on your product – but the summary is not a suggestion but a requirement.
- Patent your product. Before you put that design into the open, make sure that you are protected as the inventor.
- Find a mentor who has gone through the process before. Fellow product designers and inventors should be able to direct you to someone who can help you.
- When you have contacted a few manufacturers, compare their prices and timelines to see which suits you best.
Find out the minimum order, usual turnarounds, and sample prices.
- Discuss possible problems that could occur and how it would affect you and your product. For example, ask if the manufacturer will provide a discount or remove shipping charges if their shipment is delayed.
While you are going through the above steps, remind yourself that you are dealing with your prototype. This means that this alpha version will still go through the scrutiny and feedback of stakeholders. However, you could already ask the manufacturer if they would be able to deliver the final products, as well, after you get your feedback. Of course, you can turn to them if they do a great job with the prototype.
A prototype manufacturer should deliver your prototype on time and at a reasonable cost while raising the bar high enough by using materials that you may use for your final product. This is why it is better to commission one instead of just building makeshift versions in your own workplace.