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Getting Ready to Manufacture Your Invention Ideas

Every inventor’s goal is to see their invention ideas realized in reality. Sometimes, the excitement of bringing a ready product to the market makes ideators jump from idea straight to manufacturing. But skipping the important stages while developing a new invention, may lead to unnecessary risks and expenses.

A great inventor Alexander Graham Bell once said, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” And this is what we’re going to do today. We will help you learn how to prepare your invention ideas for production and save your resources at the same time.

How to prepare your inventions
for manufacturing

Let’s imagine for a minute that you have an idea of creating smart shoes. They will get tied by pressing a button on a simple device that comes with it. Before thinking about manufacturing your one of a kind idea, you need to make sure that it is such. So, let’s do a review of basic steps for developing a new invention.

To begin with, you go for a prior art search to see whether somebody else has already come up with the same or similar idea to yours. Keep in mind that not every product that has been patented can be already on the shelves. That is why you need to dive deeper and search for patented products to avoid infringing on somebody else’s invention idea. A U.S. Patent and Trademark Office source (USPTO) and Google Patent Search are very helpful.

Next step is to establish your target audience and see if your product idea sparks interest and/or brings solution to their problem. In the case of smart shoes, most likely, your target audience will be people with disabilities, older people, sportsmen and medical personnel. You can approach those groups using your social media platforms and do simple surveys online, as well as in-person interviews. That will give you enough data and validation to move ahead.

And after you made sure that your idea is worth pursuing, you make a design. Creating a concept design and 3CAD model of your idea most likely will require help of professional product development companies.

If you need help in developing a new invention idea, then the LA NPDT team has a solution for you.

We created RealizrTM, a professional tool that provides a structure for streamlining your idea development process and helps to take your ideas further, increasing their market viability and value.


Do I need a prototype for manufacturing?

Many inventors wonder whether they should start searching for production companies that make prototypes for invention and if they need a prototype at all. And the answer is yes! Over the years of providing rapid prototyping services, our team knows that prototyping is the most crucial stage of product development. Learn more about why prototyping is so important from our article here.

Each prototype provides hands-on opportunities to perfect the design because it is a physical model you can work with. But, a pre-production prototype in particular allows you to:

1) detect design flaws;

2) improve functionality and performance of your product;

3) minimize production costs and use of raw materials.

All production molds, tooling and machinery will be set specifically for the final design with all iterations in place. But imagine if during manufacturing without a pre-production prototype you find flaws. In order to make changes to it you will need to start all over again and invest more resources. 

invention ideas, developing a new invention, How to make a prototype of my idea, la npdt

How to make a prototype of my idea?

It depends on the complexity of your idea. You can make a prototype using your own hands and creativity or work with rapid prototyping companies. For example, one of our customers, a couple from New Orleans, came to us for our rapid prototyping services with the prototype they made themselves.

Their idea was to create a cooling vest for dogs. Mrs. Ebarb had great sewing skills which allowed her to make the first prototype, which our team developed further.

But if your idea is something like smart shoes, then you’ll need assistance from professionals who know how to get a prototype made. They will apply their expertise and guide you through the prototyping process depending on the stage of your idea development and the prototype’s purpose.

Can a manufacturer make me a prototype for production?

Yes, they can. But they usually have a biased approach to prototyping. Firstly, because they’re masters of mass production. Small projects like building a prototype will cost them, and you, more because they don’t have the necessary equipment at home or raw materials for that. Secondly, they’re not creative thinkers. They will work towards their goals, so that your product meets their manufacturing capabilities instead of helping you realize your idea your way.

Especially, when it comes to making a prototype for production. Working with new product development companies and/or rapid prototyping companies, you will have several prototypes made before getting to the final prototype. And the manufacturer isn’t really interested in that type of activity.

However, there are cases when a manufacturer gets interested in prototyping projects. But inventors must be aware that all technical documentation they provide will be owned by the manufacturer. To avoid that you need to have a Work for Hire contract with them. They also will want a Letter of Intent from you, so that you work only with them. That minimizes your opportunities to reduce production costs and get the results you need.

When is the right time to look for a manufacturer?

LA NPDT team’s experience shows that the best moment to start looking for a manufacturer is after you have a functional prototype and prior to filing a patent. At that time you will have enough data gathered in terms of pricing, functionality of your product, target audience response and materials for production to determine what manufacturer is best for you. So, while your prototype for production is being made, you can get going with your search.

How to save money during the first batch manufacturing?

Turning to a low-volume production facility for your first batch is a good idea. Such companies don’t demand a minimum order. But large-volume manufacturers do that in order to cover set up costs and offset their investments. Such extra expenses are not necessary for you at that stage.

Also, the materials you use for manufacturing largely determine the cost of your product. Minimizing expenses doesn’t always mean buying less components and materials. For instance, when the LA NPDT team was developing one of our invention ideas, we were able to cut the production costs for the first batch. We negotiated a deal with a supplier of micro-USB ports we needed. Instead of getting fewer ports that would cost $1.56 apiece, we agreed on 1000 pieces for $1.00 each. We increased the quantity and reduced the cost per unit at the same time.

How do I choose the right manufacturer?

Always consider the following factors when choosing a manufacturer:

          manufacturing capabilities;

          manufacturer’s reputation;

          scale of the production facility;

          quality assurance;

          the source of materials used for manufacturing.

According to the Entrepreneur article, these points will help you to determine whether the manufacturer will produce a high-quality product or not.  The article poses five main questions you need to ask to be able to pick the right production company.

invention ideas, developing a new invention, How to make a prototype of my idea, la npdt

How do I find a manufacturer for my product?

Living in the Internet age makes so many things easier, including search for a manufacturer of your invention ideas. You can look for a domestic or overseas manufacturer on Google using keywords related to your product type and category. You can also use such platforms like:

ThomasNet

MFG

Alibaba

IndiaMart

Referrals are another great addition to search. Use your social media to help you. Ask your friends and colleagues to share their experiences with manufacturing companies, or to refer you to people they know who have used manufacturing services.

The product development company you’re working with can give you a hand too. For example, as at LA NPDT we provide one-stop shop experience in product development and have small-batch production capabilities (in the U.S., Pakistan, and China), we know the market and can point you to the right direction. Never hesitate to ask around.

What should I do while my product is being manufactured?

Any stage of your product development is a good time to engage your target audience into the process. Use Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms. Write blogs about your product and share the progress of your invention prototyping & development. That will help you expand the end-users community and raise awareness about your product before it enters the market. Take time to create a website, newsletter, sell sheets, and so on. Find media broadcasters who will help you advertise your new product and tell the story behind its creation. 

Ready to realize your invention ideas?
Contact our experts today!

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