Inventors are the most creative and ambitious people who, after perceiving a problem, come up with a solution.
They grab instant attention of the whole world with their innovative and revolutionary inventions.
From yesterday to today and tomorrow, there have been, are and will be a number of inventions that have dramatically changed our way of living.
On the contrary, there have been, are and will be inventions that got vanished due to some or other reason.
Most of these inventions were either misdirected or did not follow the prescribed steps or guidelines that were needed to fit the set target.
The guidelines and steps could include the submission guidelines, prototype development, misrepresentation of the invention, prior art issues, or could be many more reasons that hindered the successful progress of an invention turning into a revolutionary product.
Though there is a lot to discuss and write about the unsuccessful story of an invention, through this article I just want to throw some light on the prototype and how to choose a right prototype development company.
Is your product marketable?
The question above is so important that every inventor should first ask himself and herself. Without having a proper answer to this question, it is completely futile and unwise to go with the process of prototype development.
Remember if your idea is not marketable, spending thousands of dollars to have your idea prototyped is nothing but foolishness.
No matter how bright and luminous your idea is; if it cannot appeal market, it is useless. So, if you have a marketable invention idea that can revolutionize the whole, then go on reading this article.
Prototype development is one of the most important processes of invention processes. What’s the use of a body if it has no bones; similarly what’s the use of an idea which is not prototyped.
So, a prototype has a critical role to play when it comes to the success of an invention idea. While there are two ways to develop an invention prototype, an inventor can choose any of the options as per his/her requirements.
However, I personally believe, hiring the services of an expert prototype maker saves you from many problems and hurdles that can arise out during the prototype development process.
A prototype development company is all embedded with advanced machines and tools to prototype an invention.
They have extensive years of experience in developing, improving and enhancing a wide variety of invention prototype.
They are aware of almost each and every pros and cons of prototype development, and they can better understand how your prototype should be.
How to choose a right prototype development company?
Though there are several ways to select a prototype development company, just asking some questions in advance to yourself will help you quickly ensure whether a company can cater to your unique requirements or not. Below I have tried to shed some amount of light over the same.
What type of prototype development services you are looking for?
Before going ahead, it is important to make sure whether you are dealing with a service broker, bureau, or an actual prototype provider, and if it is the last one, then make sure what are the levels and types of service the provider is going to offer you.
While all types of prototype service providers have got their utility, unless your design is ready to undergo the prototyping process without any trouble and hassle, there are higher levels of capability and service to bring about the less costly results.
Have strong user interface and user-friendly prototype
If you upload design files to the prototype, it must be fast and simple. There must be prompt return of the pricing quotations, and clear options for payment. The weaker a user interface will be, the more waste of time and money.
How far the production chain can take your product?
The right prototyper takes a project from the “design on a napkin” stage to millions of units of annual production – or can move into the process any time to resolve the problems or give suggestion for potential areas for either process or design refinement.
How flexible is the provider?
A niche prototyper—like a service bureau—suits best when you are assured that your design is free from any glitch and no problems will arise when the model undergos the development process.
On the contrary, offering payment for more than expected could destroy the pecuniary performance of your project.
In most cases, it is highly beneficial to take care of the provider who would provide you with the same services you are seeking for the specific project to obtain production goals. The provider should also be offering process development engineering services for secondary product operations like decorating processes.
Is the provider aware of how to run lean to keep costs down and improve efficiencies?
By concentrating on generating a “lean environment,” the right prototype maker is able to get time and cost savings where they might not be instantly obvious.
For instance, part travel distance at the time of production process could be enhanced for considerable reductions in part flow and material, labor, and travel time.
By helping customers to manage inventory, major prototype makers could cut lead times by 60% or more.
The prototype maker must also be on the lookout for recourses to reduce lead costs and times.
Will a knowledgeable person directly involved in the project contact you if any problem arises during prototyping process?
CAD files are prone to the malicious attacks of viruses. Designs may look unconstructive at the initial stage.
The top-level prototype makers take personal note of functionality and quality, as opposed to generally producing whatever was submitted.
Someone busy at prototype creation needs to directly get in touch with you when there is any problem, whether that problem relates to the design, the file, or both.
At the initial level, the prototype must at least instruct on the way of modifying the database of features in your design to correctly produce the prototype.
It will be better if they already know what they need to do with your database during the design refinement process.
If the back-and-forth iteration is eliminated, it can smoothen the process and output the faster results.
Is your intellectual property safe in the hands of prototype providers?
To outsource a prototype project is very common in rapid prototyping. It is very important to know where your CAD information is being transferred.
In the best situation, the prototype service providers produce your prototyping project in-house.
If the vendor selected by you outsource that project to a subcontractor, don’t forget ensuring your design is safeguarded by the required confidentiality agreements. This holds special importance in international outsourcing cases, where standard agreements are not worth enforcing.
Range of prototyping services
At the time of doing evaluation of prospective prototyping partners, take a careful and closer look at the existing services, and make sure what you need to match your internal capabilities.
Generally, a full-service prototype maker needs to provide a large variety of prototype services, such as both CNC-cut and conventional rapid tooling, as well as engineering resources to offer support to your product development:
Project and program management
The service provider must be able to comprehend your development requirements and process, and it should also offer personalized service to help you through the stages of your process.
Full development and engineering capabilities for you to select from, include:
- Industrial designers: They have capability to mix creative concepts with production and engineering to offer manufacturable design direction.
- Mechanical designers: They are able to create Design for Assembly (DFA) or Design for Manufacture (DFM) refinements or suggestions for the optimization of design for the targeted manufacturing process.
- Mechanical engineers: They have the ability to carry out prognostic modeling (mold flow, structural, thermal analysis, etc.) to cut the number of testing cycles and physical prototypes necessary.
- Materials engineers: These engineers are able to suggest appropriate materials and carry out material testing to make sure that parts cater to design objective.
- Tooling engineers: These are the people who have capability of developing the right tooling concept to cater to your timing, cost, and tool life necessities.
- Quality engineers: These engineers offer support to quality system needs for your industry.
- Cost estimating engineers: These are the engineers who have capability of coordinating and developing competitive, clear quotations.
- Processing/manufacturing engineers: These types of engineers can develop, improve, and validate manufacturing processes while making preparation for product launch.
- Packaging engineers: These engineers are able to optimize and streamline packaging processes and methods.